Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced last Sunday that the melanoma he was diagnosed with months ago has vanished in his latest brain scan.
The scan showed no sign of the cancer that originated in his liver, which eventually spread to his brain.
Carter was on the cancer drug Keytruda, an antibiotic that uses the patient’s immune system to fend off cancerous cells. The drug was approved by the FDA in September 2014 to treat melanoma specifically, a deadly skin cancer that can spring up in other body parts, too.
Can Keytruda be the elusive answer to cancer we’ve searched for, for decades?
As mentioned, the drug was originally supposed to be for melanoma specifically, but the success of the drug has led to it being explored to treat a number of other cancers, including head, neck, breast, and bladder cancers and Hodgkin lymphoma.
One important distinction with this type of treatment is it’s an immunotherapy drug. This means the drug revitalizes the body’s natural immune system to defend itself, rather than weakening the body in general with alternative treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
Hopefully Carter’s successful diagnosis can lead to refining the drug, so it can one day battle all types of cancer.