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The Immune System Against Cancer By Mrs Vera west

     We have heard the news of a universal cancer cure before, so I tsake it all now with a pinch of salt:
  https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51182451

“A newly-discovered part of our immune system could be harnessed to treat all cancers, say scientists. The Cardiff University team discovered a method of killing prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests. The findings, published in Nature Immunology, have not been tested in patients, but the researchers say they have "enormous potential". Experts said that although the work was still at an early stage, it was very exciting. What have they found? Our immune system is our body's natural defence against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells. The scientists were looking for "unconventional" and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours. What they found was a T-cell inside people's blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated. The difference is this one could attack a wide range of cancers. "There's a chance here to treat every patient," researcher Prof Andrew Sewell told the BBC. He added: "Previously nobody believed this could be possible. "It raises the prospect of a 'one-size-fits-all' cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population." How does it work? T-cells have "receptors" on their surface that allow them to "see" at a chemical level. The Cardiff team discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells. Crucially, it left normal tissues untouched. -cells attack cancer cells

Exactly how it does this is still being explored. This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body. It is thought MR1 is flagging the distorted metabolism going on inside a cancerous cell to the immune system.”

     The technical details are here for our large science-minded readership:
  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41590-019-0578-8

“Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-independent, T cell–mediated targeting of cancer cells would allow immune destruction of malignancies in all individuals. Here, we use genome-wide CRISPR–Cas9 screening to establish that a T cell receptor (TCR) recognized and killed most human cancer types via the monomorphic MHC class I-related protein, MR1, while remaining inert to noncancerous cells. Unlike mucosal-associated invariant T cells, recognition of target cells by the TCR was independent of bacterial loading. Furthermore, concentration-dependent addition of vitamin B-related metabolite ligands of MR1 reduced TCR recognition of cancer cells, suggesting that recognition occurred via sensing of the cancer metabolome. An MR1-restricted T cell clone mediated in vivo regression of leukemia and conferred enhanced survival of NSG mice. TCR transfer to T cells of patients enabled killing of autologous and nonautologous melanoma. These findings offer opportunities for HLA-independent, pan-cancer, pan-population immunotherapies.”

     The idea that T-cells could be switched on to attack all types of cancer cells is novel, and the general response to the discovery by scientific researchers is, yes, interesting but more research is needed. More research is always needed.

 

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Tuesday, 26 May 2020
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