A new immunotherapy gel helps cancer survival
Cancer researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts have found that implanting an immunotherapy gel after surgery for breast cancer may significantly boost survival levels.
This promising approach, which could be used in other cancers too, is important because some 40% of people who have had a tumour removed experience its return within 5 years.
In the study, reported in Science Translational Medicine Feb 2018, the researchers loaded a half-inch gel disc (made of a sugar naturally found in the body) with drugs that activate dendritic cells. Dendritic cells are part of the innate immune system – the body’s first line defence against pathogenic intruders and diseased cells like cancer.
Immunotherapy drugs activate dendritic cells, which “train” T-cells to attack cancer
The hydrogel, placed in the space left where the tumour was removed, releases the drug over an extended period of time. When the dendritic cells are activated, they train T cells – part of the adaptive part of the immune system – to attack cancer cells anywhere in the body, including at the site of the original tumour.
The study was conducted on mice, but there are plans to extend the study to patients because the animal results were startling. The cancer was eradicated in 65% of gel-treated mice, against only 10% of control, non-treated mice.
Immunotherapy for cancer
The gel appears to work against breast and skin cancers. The online report in Science Translational Medicine, referenced below, explains the approach.
Normal cells mutate on a daily basis. But our immune system usually recognizes and destroys these mutated cells before they can multiply into a tumour. Unfortunately, though, some mutated cells can ‘hijack’ the system designed to kill them. If this happens, the cancerous cells become virtually undetectable, therefore free to multiply and form tumours.
Immunotherapy aims to enhance our immune response to recognise these hijacker cancer cells.
“This kind of therapy has shown incredible potential to treat various forms of cancer, such as melanoma, kidney cancer, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer, non-small cell lung cancer.”
Immunotherapy – which takes many forms, of which the gel is one of the newest – may be the most promising approach in the battle against cancer.
Natural health supplements like 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans can be used alongside drugs in immunotherapy to further prime the immune system. See http://www.uni-vite.com/immunoshield/beta-glucans-and-immunotherapy/
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