Soon, a new cancer treatment may possibly be on the horizon, thanks to the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. This newly-developed treatment, which was tested on mice, has the power to obliterate tumors in their body.
An article in the Science Mag claims that an immune stimulating mixture injected directly into the tumors in mice boosted their immunity. Moreover, the ‘vaccine’ has destroyed not just the injected tumors but also some other tumors in their body.
The immunologists Keith Knutson of the Mayo Clinic, who was also a part of the research, said:
“This is very significant study. It provides a good pretext for going into humans.”
To this point, researchers also experimented by inserting other various blends that contained molecules and viruses into the tumors. The intention is always the same: improvement of the immunity. Nevertheless, the results on humans were different. Almost every tested human candidate showed no signs of improvement. That is the reason why the medical oncologist Ron Levy of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, worked with his colleagues to test the cancer-fighting capabilities of approximately 20 molecules – together. These also include several types of antibodies that activate the immune cells.
The researchers induced tumors in mice by inserting cancer cells just below the skin at two different locations on the abdomen. After the tumors started growing on both of the sides, the scientists injected the molecules, either alone or in a mixture, into one tumor in each of the mice. Then, the tumors were regularly checked and their responses documented.
In the study that has been published in Science Translational Medicine, the team explained that a pair of molecules (a type of DNA fragment which is called CpG and an antibody against the immune cell protein (OX40) produced the best results.
“When they are on their own, they do almost nothing, but the combination is synergistic.”
The tumors disappeared in less than ten days period after the injection of the two molecules. Within 20 days, the non-injected tumors had also vanished.
These molecules have different functions.
- The CpG molecule stimulates dendritic cells that help instigate counter-attacks against cancerous cells.
- OX40 molecule serves as a throttle of sorts for T-cells, which is another type of immune cell that battles tumors. The anti-OX40 antibodies charge up the T-cells.
For testing the mixture further, Levy and his team tried the method in mouse prone to breast tumors. Injecting the mixture into one tumor halted the growth of the other one, as well as prevented any new breast tumors from growing.
Levy also hopes that the particular combination is going to be very useful in patients. He also predicts that it could work against some cancers. He thinks that it can eliminate metastases, the secondary tumors which result when cancer is spreading.
Now, the scientific task is to determine whether or not the approach is going to work on humans, as most rodent cancer therapies do not convert to humans. Levy, together with his colleagues have launched a clinical trial to evaluate the safety of their approach, as well as to taste its effectiveness in patients with lymphoma.
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