Tuesday, July 16, 2013

T-Cells and Cancer Cures

The U.K. Independent has a story that may soon become international news.

It seems that researchers have developed a means of treating cancer that uses the body's own immune system to kill tumor cells. This is revolutionary because whereas current treatments have a lot of undesirable side-effects, this treatment has none.

It works by employing cells called T-cells, the most effective killers in the immune system, to destroy cancer cells. The difficulty that had to be overcome was that though T-cells are very good at recognizing foreign invaders like bacteria, they're not good at recognizing cancer cells.

The solution, developed by a small lab in England, is to use an intermediate protein called ImmTAC, which can be engineered to recognize tumor cells and at the same time bind with T-cells so that the T-cell is brought into contact with the cancer and thereby destroy it.

Here's a schematic from the article that illustrates how it works.

One amazing aspect of the work of this lab is that the ImmTAC can be designed to recognize many kinds of tumor cells so that it can be used against breast, prostate, and brain tumors.

The researchers believe that this treatment will not just put cancers into remission, like other treatments which often don't kill every tumor cell, but that this treatment will actually rid the body completely of cancer.

It's a wonderful development and you can read more about it at the link.