Cancer Cells Made to Kill Each Other

From the Scripps Research Institute, is emerging a potential cancer treatment unlike the common, rigorous methods.

A team of scientists, led by Richard Lerner, M.D., have conducted lab experiments in which they turned leukemia cells into normal immune cells with up to 80 percent efficiency.

What’s more, these “natural killer” cells seek out and destroy their unchanged cancerous brethren, scientists say.

According to Lerner, if all goes well, human trials will be launched next year.

New Research: Cancer Cells Made to Kill Each Other

Scientists conducted experiments with cell cultures of acute myeloid leukemia, also called acute myeloblastic leukemia. The team of scientists, using a rare antibody selected from a pool of 100 billion candidates, were able to cause the acute myeloblastic leukemia cells to mature.

Upon maturity, cells turn into normal adult cells, are no longer dangerous and seek out remaining leukemic cells to extinguish.

Cancer Antibodies Made of Cancer Cells- A New Therapy Approach?

Supposing Lerner and his team’s findings prove effective, it represents a new, alternative form of cancer therapy. Traditional cancer treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy damage healthy tissue along with the cancer.

Lerner’s method of educating cancer cells to act normally, in theory, would be less taxing on patients. Furthermore, because Lerner’s method does not kill cancer cells, it lends to the theory that the cancer cells are less likely to develop immunity through evolution.

What’s Next?

Dr. Rafael Bejar, a physician-scientist at UCSD Moores Cancer Centre says “the study’s findings could be important, but more research and verification is needed”(1). 

When speaking on the findings that the leukemic cells can become functional and as act as “natural killers” of remaining leukemic cells, Bejar says “this is also the most tentative finding. This effect is shown only in the petri dish”(1).

Lerner and his team hope to quash concerns such as those brought on by Bejar. To do so, Lerner wants to conduct more conclusive experiments. Not on animals however, as Lerner says, “animal models of this disease are tricky to produce, and would probably not add significant useful information”(1). 

Instead, Lerner insists “we’re trying to go straight into man”. One way to do the trial would be to administer the antibody into the patients. In that case, very small doses would be used at first, to look for any signs of harm.

The Negative Side Effects of Traditional Chemotherapy & Radiation

Common cancer therapy treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy are grueling and have harmful effects on the body. As such, a less rigorous therapy like the one proposed by Lerner presents a reasonable alternative.

Side Effects of Radiation & Chemo

In general, side effects of radiation therapy will depend on the type of radiation therapy, the part of your body being treated, the amount of radiation and treatment schedule and your overall health (2).

Cancer cells tend to grow fast, and chemo drugs kill fast-growing cells. In the process, normal, healthy cells can be affected as well.

General side effects of radiation and chemotherapy therapy include:

1- Fatigue.

2- Skin problems.

3- Hair loss.

4- Loss of appetite.

5- Nausea and vomiting.

6- Low blood cell counts.

7- Diarrhea.

8- Dehydration.

9- Sexual side effects.

10- Changes in your sense of taste.

Of course, this list only just scratches the surface. For a more thorough breakdown of people’s experience with chemo (and the side effects no one warns you about), read this next.

By  / References: 1.; 2.; 3.