5 Cancer Treatment Breakthrough’s.
“Cancer, perhaps more than any other word in the developed world, has the power to make one’s blood run cold. It’s a ruthless killer, and virtually nothing can block its path once it has spread. Despite our technologies and advancements, our medical schools, and countless doctors devoted to the cause, cancer remains a very real threat, a disease with no cure.
Still, though, there’s hope. We’ve come up with treatments that 50 years ago would have seemed impossible. We’ve thrown cancers into remission that had previously been dubbed “incurable.” We’re using tools in different ways with fantastic results and turning to unlikely substances to help us in the war against malignant cells. Cancer may still be terrifying — and perhaps it always will be — but the strides we’ve made against it make a cure seem not only possible, but within reach.
Here, check out Medical Daily’s five most important breakthroughs on the cancer front.
Fratricidins—Cancer That Kills Cancer
This October, a team of researchers made an astonishing discovery: by applying antibodies to acute myeloid leukemia cells, they managed to turn malignant cells into something far more desirable. Not only did the cells become helpful dendritic cells, key supporters in the body’s immune system, but when pushed even further they developed into cells that closely resembled the body’s natural killer cells.” said medicaldaily.com
“Scientists watched in surprise as the newly formed cells began to attack their former brethren, a modest number of them taking out approximately 15 percent of the surrounding leukemia cells. The cells were purely fratricidal, only attacking the leukemia cells they had been derived from. This quirk was incredibly useful, since the main drawback of many cancer treatment is the potential damage to surrounding healthy cells.
The research team is currently in talks with pharmaceutical companies, aiming to bring the treatment to humans after the appropriate preclinical toxicity studies.
Olive Oil Vs. Cancer
Olive oil has been touted for its multifaceted abilities since its discovery. It’s great to eat, it’s great for your hair, and it’s great for your skin. Its qualities have been extended to standing up to cancer, according to a team of researchers from Rutgers University and Hunter College. It gets better—everyone’s favorite Mediterranean oil was shown to eradicate cancer cells in less than an hour.
Oleocanthal, the primary phenolic compound in extra-virgin olive oil destroyed the waste centers of cancer cells, which destabilized them and caused death within 30 to 60 minutes. Healthy cells stayed intact during the process, a big win with cancer. As of now, the concept is just that: a concept—the benefits of olive oil for cancer treatment have only been demonstrated in cell cultures, and rat or human cells are more complex. Still, the researchers hypothesize that a pure dose of olepcanthal could be used therapeutically.
Your Immune System, Version 2.0
Immunotherapy is the use of a patient’s own immune system to treat an infection or disease. It might seem like an obvious approach—isn’t that the immune system’s point in the first place? The execution is more complicated than the name suggests, though, and messing with the body’s immune system can have, well, messy consequences. Despite this, a big victory did come this year, with researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center producing a promising response in cancer patients using a form of immunotherapy. 70 percent of patients with a particularly lethal form of multiple myeloma showed a “significant clinical response” to the therapy, which involved researchers genetically engineering T cells to contain a receptor for a tumor antigen. The antigen is present in about 60 percent of patients with advanced myeloma, and the engineering quipped the T cells to spot and destroy the cancer cells.” said medicaldaily.com
“The study, while small, was significant in the medical community. No major side effects were reported in the patients, meaning the treatment not only works, but poses little health risk. The researchers say it’s only a matter of time before immunotherapy such as this replace chemo as the standard for cancer treatment.
Borrowed Cells, Big Results
An infant girl, not even one year old at the time of her treatment, was the first patient to receive a new, experimental treatment for leukemia cells that proved to be very successful. Layla Richards’ parents were told their baby had an extremely aggressive form of cancer, and after several rounds of treatment, that there were no options left for their daughter. This led them to allow doctors to try a new treatment that had never been demonstrated outside of a laboratory.
Researchers had collected a bank full of T-cells modified to identify and treat cancer cells to be used in a final stage of testing before clinical trials could begin. They took a chance on Layla, however, and found that the treatment—which had been very successful in laboratory studies—was equally effective in Layla. Doctors called her body’s response to the treatment a “miracle”—her body was rid of the leukemia and she was able to go home after a bone marrow transplant. As a successful human trial, Layla’s case was a huge step forward for new cancer treatments.” said medicaldaily.com
Malaria—The Cancer Killer?
“Malaria is known for being a blood borne disease caused by a parasite, spread through mosquitos. A group of Danish researchers made a peculiar discovery, though, identifying certain aspects of Malaria that would spell doom for cancerous tumors. Malaria is especially dangerous to expecting mothers because the parasite may attack the placenta. The researchers observed several similarities between placentas and tumors, leading them to attach a cancer-killing toxin to the malaria protein.
The combination proved deadly—it was up to 90 percent effective in destroying various cancer samples, and it was also successfully tested in mice that were implanted with different types of human cancers. It may seem counterintuitive to trade off one deadly disease for another, but the researchers explained that the malaria protein attached only to the tumor, “without any significant attachment to other tissue.”
It will be a few years before the treatment is available for human testing, but scientists are hopeful it will be a big step up for cancer treatment.” said medicaldaily.com
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