• Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (Photo : Reuters/Mike Segar)

An Israeli-tested cancer breakthrough drug that triggers the human body's natural immune system was used as a key tool in helping former United States president Jimmy Carter to become cancer-free. The immunotherapy medication used during his liver and brain cancer treatment destroyed the deadly tumors that developed after he received a melanoma (skin cancer) diagnosis earlier this year.

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The new cancer medication is part of a class of drugs called immunotherapies. It was tested by the Ella Institute's researcher Professor Jacob Schachter at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

The Merck pharmaceutical company's injectable drug functions by blocking a protein in PD-1 tumors. That protein prevents the body from naturally fighting the cancer cells.   

91-year-old Carter announced on December 6, Sunday that doctors have found no traces of cancer tumors on his brain, which they discovered during the summer. There are also no signs of new cancer.

After Carter received a melanoma diagnosis he started cancer treatment, which included surgery to remove a portion of his liver, and radiation therapy. He also took doses of the new Merck drug Keytruda to boost his body's natural immune system for killing new cancer cells.    

Carter reported that he will still have regular immunotherapy treatments of the pembrolizumab drug. That will be every three weeks, according to Times of Israel.  

An irony is that in the past Carter has supported boycotts against Israel. However, such an embargo on Israeli goods would technically not have prevented him from accessing the cancer drug Keytruda.as it was researched in but not developed in the Jewish State, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Here is an explanation of PD1 in cancer cells: