Scientists at Cardiff University discovered a novel method of killing lung, breast, prostate and other cancers in the lab. The newly-discovered part is no other than our immune system. Researchers say it has “enormous potential”.
Although the findings are at an early stage and have not been tested in patients the expectations are extremely high.
The role of the immune system is to protect our body from various pests including bacteria, infection, but also against cancerous cells. In their searching for “unconventional” and a new approach to deal with cancer, those scientists recall: our immune system naturally attacks the cancerous cells, but how?
So they found the Holy Grail: T-cell inside our blood. This is an immune cell with “receptors” on the surface that allow them to scan the body for threats that need to be eliminated. This T-cell has the ability to attack a wide range of cancers including lung, breast, prostate, skin, blood, colon, bone, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells.
The team discovered also that the T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the body. Together they find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells while leaving normal tissues untouched.
“Previously nobody believed this could be possible. But now there’s a chance here to treat every patient,” researcher Prof. Andrew Sewell told the BBC.
The Cardiff team is the first to show a T-cell that finds MR1 in cancer cells. “That hasn’t been done before, this is the first of its kind,” research fellow Garry Dolton told the BBC.