Medicine: The End of the Beginning?

A controversial cancer treatment shows new promise

To avoid raising false hopes among cancer victims, researchers tend to use caution in reporting even the most promising advances in treatment for the dread disease. Yet two articles published in last week's New England Journal of Medicine, while containing caveats, seemed reason for guarded optimism. Both dealt with a controversial treatment known as adoptive immunotherapy, which involves the use of a naturally produced substance, interleukin-2 (IL- 2), to bolster a patient's immune system. Both reported striking improvements in some patients with advanced cases of cancer.

Dr. Steven Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute, a principal author of one of the...

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