From the Telegraph, cancer sufferers could be cured with injections of immune cells from other people within two years. Dr Zheng Cui, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has shown in laboratory experiments that immune cells from some people can be almost 50 times more effective in fighting cancer than in others. The treatment is called “GIFT” (Granulocyte InFusion Therapy).
The Fight Aging blog indicates that Dr Cui’s work is important, and an impressive technology demonstration, but still pre-trial and one of dozens of just as effective demonstrated means to kill cancer. I think that because this treatment is so simple and similar to other methods that the delay until it is shown to work and optimized and until it is used should be far shorter than some other methods. FDA approval of some drugs is as long as 17 years.
I think one of the best ways to provide this immune system boost is before there is any cancer. Just as there is 80% survival for stage 0 cancer versus 2% survival for stage 5, getting the GIFT boost similar to a vaccination could prevent cancer from getting a toe hold. Other treatments like chemo therapy kill even higher percentages of cancer cells but are applied later in the disease progression and have side effects. If the immune system boost can applied without causinggraft versus host disease, then this could be a prevention for cancer. Wikipedia discusses transfusion associated graft versus host disease
Dr Cui is confident patients could benefit from the technique quickly because the technology used to extract granulocytes is the same as that already used by hospitals to obtain other blood components such as plasma or platelets.
Last year Dr Cui caused shockwaves in the cancer research community when he identified granulocytes as the cells responsible for the mouse cancer immunity – because they are among those which act automatically.
Prof Gribben said: “This is surprising because it goes against how we thought immune system works against cancer. It makes us think again about our preconceived notions.”
Prof Cui injected granulocytes from immune mice into ordinary mice, and found it was possible to give them protection from cancer.
Even more excitingly he found the transfusions caused existing cancers to go into remission and to clear them completely within weeks.
A single dose of the cells appeared to give many of the mice resistance to cancer for the rest of their lives.
Prof Gribben warned the US researchers would have to be careful to avoid other immune system cells from the donor proliferating in the patient’s body.
He added: “If they’re using live cells there is a theoretical risk of graft-versus-host disease, which can prove fatal.”
Dr Cui said he is working on ways to minimise this risk
UPDATE:One drawback for Dr Cui GIFT method of cancer treatment is that it requires 10 donors for every recipient. I speculate, we will probably need to use telomeres and culturing of cells to increase the volume of cells for donation.
While most of the research attention has been focused on the question, why cancer occurs in about 25% of humans, a less frequently asked question has been why the other 75% of humans do not get cancer. Cigarette-smoking is a highly reliable way for humans to expose themselves to known carcinogens, causing a 100-fold increase of lung cancer rates from 0.08% in the general population to 8% in smokers. Why do the other 92% of smokers not get cancer? It has long been speculated that there is a cancer surveillance system in humans. There must be something that protects healthy humans from getting cancer, even after repeated exposures to carcinogens… Based on these findings and the ability to screen for cancer-resistant humans as allogenic white cell donors, we proposed a new cancer treatment strategy, termed “GIFT” (Granulocyte InFusion Therapy), that will soon enter phase II clinical trials
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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