FIGHTING CANCER WITHOUT CHEMO OR RADIATION

Cancer Treatment: Types, Diagnosis & Cost, Treatment in India

Before a patient can undergo T cell therapy to target cancerous tumours, the patient’s immune system must be destroyed with chemotherapy or radiation. The toxic side effects are well known, including nausea and hair loss. Now a research team, led by Assistant Professor Anusha Kalbasi from the University of California, Los Angeles, in collaboration with scientists from Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania, has shown that a synthetic IL-9 receptor allows those cancer-fighting T cells to do their work without the need for chemotherapy or radiation. “When T cells are signalling through the synthetic IL-9 receptor, they gain new functions that help them not only outcompete the existing immune system but also kill cancer cells more efficiently,” said Kalbasi.

“I have a patient right now struggling through toxic chemotherapy just to wipe out his existing immune system so T cell therapy can have a fighting chance. But with this technology you might give T cell therapy without having to wipe out the immune system beforehand.” This finding potentially allows T cells to be given like a blood transfusion. The researchers targeted two types of hard-to-treat cancer models in mice – pancreatic cancer and melanoma – and used T cells targeted to cancer cells through the natural T cell receptor or a chimeric antigen receptor. “The therapy also worked whether we gave the cytokine to the whole mouse or directly to the tumour,” said Kalbasi.

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