Even with everything he’s accomplished since, 1985 was a banner year for Dr. Steven Rosenberg. In July, he became a media star after removing a 2-inch polyp from President Ronald Reagan’s large intestine. In December, he announced that a seemingly hopeless immunotherapy for cancer that failed in the first 66 patients had cured the 67th of metastatic melanoma, which was almost always fatal back then.

Reagan lived another 19 years, never developing colon cancer. The melanoma patient is, against all odds, still alive and well. But the immunotherapy, which Rosenberg eventually figured out worked via cells called tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), has yet to become a cell-based cancer treatment: TILs failed more patients than it cured and were a bear to manufacture.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!


What is it?

STAT Plus is a premium subscription that delivers daily market-moving biopharma coverage and in-depth science reporting from a team with decades of industry experience.

What's included?

  • Authoritative biopharma coverage and analysis, interviews with industry pioneers, policy analysis, and first looks at cutting edge laboratories and early stage research
  • Subscriber-only networking events and panel discussions across the country
  • Monthly subscriber-only live chats with our reporters and experts in the field
  • Discounted tickets to industry events and early-bird access to industry reports

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

Sign up for our Daily Recap newsletter

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy