New Research Offers Promise for Cancer Immunotherapy
The human body comes equipped with an incredibly powerful tool designed to fight illness, infections and other unwanted invaders. Precise and unrelenting in its quest to wipe out sickness, the immune system is a well-oiled machine when it comes to keeping most people generally healthy. Unfortunately, it has been largely ineffective in protecting people from the development of cancerous tumors. Researchers at MIT, however, believe they are on the path to changing all that by unlocking a secret that may one day better enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer all on its own.
Believing the immune system holds the power to destroy cancer at its very roots, researchers at MIT devised a way to promote a two-prong immune attack on cancer cells. Cancer immunotherapy has long shown promise, but heretofore researchers have focused in on antibodies or T cell production as a single point of attack. Antibodies activate the innate immune system. T cells are known to drive the adaptive immune system.
Rather than simply rely on antibodies or T cells alone in their immunotherapy research, MIT’s team came up with a way to simultaneously trigger both aggressive arms of the immune system for a two-front attack on cancer. When both approaches were combined, MIT’s researchers were able to successfully stop the growth of a rather aggressive form of melanoma in mice, casting light on the potential this particular treatment path may one day offer.
Researchers found that when antibodies are stimulated they can create an environment that promotes effectiveness of the T cells in killing cancer cells. While T cells have an effect without the presence of antibodies, they simply have a difficult time battling cancer cells.
While much more research needs to be done to advance this type of immunotherapy, the promise is encouraging. The body itself may indeed hold the key to successful treatment of a host of cancer types. When the immune system operates in a two-prong attack, they results may prove too much for cancer cells to withstand.
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