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HOW IT WORKS: CANCER-FIGHTING IMMUNOTHERAPY

In the war against cancer, doctors have discovered a powerful new tool: the immune system. The FDA recently fast-tracked approval of three new immunotherapy drugs, called PD-1 inhibitors, designed to help white blood cells hunt down and eradicate hard-to-fight tumors--indefinitely. “Chemotherapy almost always stops working,” says Jonathan Cheng, executive director of oncology clinical development at Merck. “The promise of immune therapy is that you’re training the immune system to attack something foreign, so you’re able to maintain that activity for a very long time--hopefully for the rest of a patient’s life.”

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