Radio Shows | New Hope for Melanoma | mp3 … wma … wav
Today, we'll explore a new treatment for cancer.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US. One of the reasons not everyone gets cancer is that our own bodies have evolved defenses against it.
There is a growing body of evidence in support of what scientists call "immune surveillance for control of common cancers".
It has long been suspected that our bodies contain special immune cells called natural killer cells that are involved in immune surveillance. These NK cells are able to recognize precancerous cells and eliminate them.
Cancer cells evolve and change in response to their environment more rapidly than normal cells. Most cancer cells are killed by NK cells. However, some cancer cells mutate and escape without being recognized and killed. These selected cancer cells can then continue to grow into a tumor, free from attack by the NK cells that protect us.
Some tumors can actually alter our immune response and hinder its ability to limit cancer growth. Researchers are conducting studies to harness our natural defenses in treatment against cancer.
One new therapy showing promise is being performed at the National Cancer Institute. Scientists discovered that patients with advanced melanoma actually have small numbers of immune cells in their blood capable of fighting the cancer.
So they developed a method to pull out those cells, grow billions of them in the lab and then place them back inside these terminally ill melanoma patients. The results were exciting: Half of them showed improvement and two became cancer free.
This approach, called adoptive transfer of lympohcytes harnesses the body's own immune cells for battle. It's research like this that gives us hope that one day fewer people will die from this disease.
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