Fightaging reports how the world of cancer treatments is changing profoundly, gearing up for a new generation of therapies that will displace chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Reprogramming immune cells or introducing targeted viruses and nanoparticles to seek out and kill cancer cells with few side-effects will be the standard operating procedure twenty years from now – and probably available outside the US in a decade.
In early trials and the laboratory, these technologies are already showing impressive results.
A team transplanted human tumors into the feet of mice, where tumors can be easily monitored. When they treated the rodents with anti-CD47, the tumors shrank and did not spread to the rest of the body. In mice given human bladder cancer tumors, for example, 10 of 10 untreated mice had cancer that spread to their lymph nodes. Only one of 10 mice treated with anti-CD47 had a lymph node with signs of cancer. Moreover, the implanted tumor often got smaller after treatment—colon cancers transplanted into the mice shrank to less than one-third of their original size, on average. And in five mice with breast cancer tumors, anti-CD47 eliminated all signs of the cancer cells, and the animals remained cancer-free 4 months after the treatment stopped.
We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis,” says Weissman.
Although macrophages also attacked blood cells expressing CD47 when mice were given the antibody, the researchers found that the decrease in blood cells was short-lived; the animals turned up production of new blood cells to replace those they lost from the treatment
If Cancer has effective therapies, the stem cells can be used for regeneration and tissue maintenance
Fightaging – Improvements in cancer treatment – leading to the introduction of robust therapies that can clear most common forms of cancer quickly and without accompanying illness – will, I think, go hand in hand with a far greater demand for and use of very aggressive stem cell treatments. Things like periodic infusions of massive numbers of immune cells cloned from a patient’s own cells, done not just for people with medical conditions, but for the healthy as a beneficial preventative measure. Similarly, why boost regeneration and tissue maintenance via stem cell therapies only in the sick and the wounded? That makes sense if there is a significant risk associated with treatment, but in a world in which cancer is merely troublesome, why not make stem cell therapies a part of general health maintenance?
These are the sort of shifts in the cost-benefit picture of regenerative medicine that will emerge over the next couple of decades, driven by a growing ability to control the undesirable aspects of cellular biology, such as cancer.
Researchers are working on strategies to rejuvenate patients’ exhausted immune responses. The techniques the groups employed involved using known factors to revert mature immune T cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which can differentiate into virtually any of the body’s different cell types. The researchers then expanded these iPSCs and later coaxed them to redifferentiate back into T cells. Importantly, the newly made T cells were “rejuvenated” with increased growth potential and lifespan, while retaining their original ability to target cancer and HIV-infected cells. These findings suggest that manipulating T cells using iPSC techniques could be useful for future development of more effective immune therapies.
In one study, investigators used T cells from an HIV-infected patient. The redifferentiated cells they generated had an unlimited lifespan and contained long telomeres, or caps, on the ends of their chromosomes, which protect cells from aging. This is significant because normal aging of T cells limits their expansion, making them inefficient as therapies. “The system we established provides ‘young and active’ T cells for adoptive immunotherapy against viral infection or cancers,” says senior author Dr. Hiromitsu Nakauchi, of the University of Tokyo.
==If cancer is mostly out of the picture then rejuvenated immune cells could be boosted by say ten times to take out any troublesome disease.
Rejuvenated stem cells could be used to replace aging tissue throughout the body
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.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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