The biotechnology industry is continuing to develop new and innovative ways to attack cancer. The latest approach to doing battle with the deadly disease is being developed by the Scripps Research Institute, and it involves causing leukemia cells to attack each other, eventually eradicating the blood cancer disease, according to Medical Daily.
The discovery was made by accident when the researchers were exploring ideas on how to use antibodies to cause immature bone marrow cells to grow into specific blood cell types. The same antibodies were able to transform acute leukemia cells into dendritic cells, which are key support cells in the body’s immune system.
The researchers decided to push further and continue to expose the dendritic cells to the antibodies. The result was a group of cells called natural killer or NK cells that are part of the body’s natural defenses. NK cells attack pathogens and tumors. Indeed, the newly created NK cells immediately attacked the unconverted leukemia cells and destroyed 15 percent of them within 24 hours.
So far the effect only works on leukemia. An attempt to try the same thing on breast cancer cells met with failure. It is possible, though, that other antibodies would be effective on the different type of cancers.
The upshot is that the Scripps Research Institute is keen to have the biotechnology industry start human trials directly as soon as the preclinical toxicity studies are completed. If the approach is effective in actual patients, the treatment will become a powerful way to deal with leukemia and perhaps, in the fullness of time, other forms of cancer without causing the bad side effects of conventional chemotherapy.
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