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  • Scientists and doctors will become like engineers; ‘upgrading’ the body rather than destroying it with toxic cancer treatments, researchers say.

    Scientists and doctors will become like engineers; ‘upgrading’ the body rather than destroying it with toxic cancer treatments, researchers say. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 December 2018

Millions of lives could be saved, scientists said, calling the new treatment a cancer breakthrough.

Researchers may be one step closer to beating cancer with the discovery of a new treatment which harvests healthy immune cells from donors for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

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Millions of lives could be saved, scientists from London’s Francis Crick Institute told the Telegraph, calling the new treatment a cancer breakthrough.

The body’s immune system is one of the most vulnerable during cancer treatment and is often times commandeered by cancer cells to help spread the disease quickly through the body. In some cases, like with leukemia or lymphoma, cancer will interfere with the body’s natural production of white blood cells and immune cells, which are used to fight infections.

Compounded with the use of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted cancer drugs, or steroids, a patient’s immune system has little chance to recover before undergoing another round of harsh treatment and, consequently, is at greater risk for infection.

Harvesting and storing healthy immune cells from strangers and reintroducing them into cancer patients could potentially ease the stress on their bodies and allow for a faster, stronger recovery.

Lead researcher Professor Adrian Hayday at the Immunosurveillance Lab, noting that although the concept is not new, the method is revolutionary, “Using the immune system to fight cancer is the ultimate do-it-yourself approach.

“Even a few years ago the notion that any clinician would look at a patient and deliver a therapy which wasn’t going to directly affect the cancer in any way, shape or form, would have been pretty radical. But that’s what’s happening,” he said.

Scientists and doctors will become like engineers; ‘upgrading’ the body rather than destroying it with toxic cancer treatments, Hayday said.

“We’re not quite there yet. But that’s what we’re trying now,” he said.

Researchers are eager to establish the first of many immune banks with patients scheduled to start receiving treatment within the next year.

Cancer and Genome expert, Professor Charlie Swanton said, “The future is incredibly bright. Using the body’s own immune cells to target the tumor is elegant because tumors evolve so quickly there is no way a pharmaceutical company can keep up with it. But the immune system has been evolving for over four billion years to do just that.”

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