To turn T cells into cancer fighters, start with bacteria (w/VIDEO)
January 27, 2015 | by Nicole White
Equipping the immune system to fight cancer – a disease that thrives on mutations and circumventing the body’s natural defenses – is within reach. In fact, City of Hope researchers are testing one approach in clinical trials now. Scientists take a number of steps to turn cancer patients' T cells – white blood cells that are part of the immune system’s defenses – into smart cells that can locate elusive cancer cells. They also get help from nature, using the natural properties of what most people consider agents of infection. First, they use bacteria to help the patient’s own T cells grow in the lab – because cell reproduction is something bacteria do very well. Then they use a harmless virus to manipulate the DNA of the T cell so it can recognize certain markers on a cancer cell that flag them as targets for attack. KPCC recently reported on this research, explaining how the immune system might be mobilized to attack cancers that are good at hiding from the body. Bacteria, viruses, a patient’s own immune system and a team of top scientists all working in concert against cancer ... Sound complicated? In about two and a half minutes, the above video artfully sums up the process step by step. So far, City of Hope is studying this approach in a number of blood cancers through the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute. ** Learn more about T cell immunotherapy at City of Hope. Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.