Learning from the Lazarus Effect

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Most clinical trials for cancer drugs are failures. But for a handful of patients, a drug proves to be nearly a cure. What can science learn from these “exceptional responders”?

For years, Grace Silva had experienced odd episodes with her throat — bouts of swelling and radiating pain that seemed to resolve with antibiotics — but her doctors couldn’t explain what was wrong. Finally, after a flare-up in the summer of 2010, Grace was referred to a specialist, an ear doctor who felt something amiss on the left side of her throat: a lump.

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