Cancer is something that affects millions of people across the globe at some point in their lives as either they or a loved one may have a cancer diagnosis. This disease has a detrimental impact not only on those suffering from cancer, but also those close to them. This is why finding treatments has become such an important focus of medical research. Scientists have now made huge progress in the field of cancer research in recent years and now have a potential new treatment and human trials will begin in 2019.
The researchers working on this project are based at the Francis Crick Institute in London and their treatment uses the body’s own immune system in the fight against cancer. The scientists have discovered a way of implanting immune system cells that are taken from strangers and implanting them into cancer sufferers to fight their tumors.
The UK newspaper ‘Telegraph’ has reported that this is an innovative step forward in cancer treatment as it could potentially replace more traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy. They also reported that the researchers are claiming that the new treatment has the potential to increase cancer ten-year survival rates from the current 50% to as high as 75%.
‘Telegraph’ interviewed the researchers responsible for the project and the described the new treatment as a do-it-yourself approach. The aim is to help cancer sufferers to fight the disease using their own immune system and not to rely on radiation or chemicals.
Charlie Swanton is one of the researchers in the team from Francis Crick. He has described their work as very exciting and outlined the theory behind the treatment further. According to Swanton, the new approach is an elegant one that provides a solution to one of the main challenges faced by those researching cancer.
Tumors can evolve so rapidly that it is almost impossible for pharmaceutical companies to adapt to these constant changes. By the time they have developed a treatment for cancerous tumors, the tumors have evolved and the pharmaceutical treatments are no longer relevant. This means that they can have a low success rate in the treatment of cancer. Using the body’s own immune cells overcomes this problem as the human immune system has constantly evolved over more than four billion years to tackle such changes in the body.
Swanton went on to tell the newspaper in the interview that he believes that their new research and trials will open new doors for further research and lead to the use of new tools in the fight against cancer.
The research has made him believe that a diagnosis of cancer might not be the potential death sentence it is now in the future. In fact, he believes that in 20 years from now, cancer will become something that is viewed entirely differently. It is his hope that research and treatments will have advanced to a point where cancer is treated rapidly, or it is a manageable long-term chronic issue. The scientist holds the view that the immune system is an essential element of reaching this point.
One of the aims of the team is to have immune banks. These will store disease-fighting cells that doctors can use in the future to treat those who have been diagnosed with cancer. Having a supply of such cells on standby will speed up the whole treatment process.
Professor Adrian Hayday, an immunology expert, is the group leader at the Immunosurveillance Lab at Francis Crick. He has played a key role in the current research into the use of immune system cells for the treatment of cancer. He has drawn a direct comparison between current treatment methods with those that doctors could use in the future.
According to Hayday, the current approach relies heavily on toxic chemotherapy. In the future, he believes that doctors and scientists will become more like engineers. The will use the methods that are being trialed on humans in 2019 to upgrade the body without the need for chemicals.
Of course, this treatment is still in the research stage and the full potential and success rate of its use will not be known until the human trials are complete. Nonetheless, this research is a prime example of the huge leaps being made in the research into cancer treatment and it will give hope to many in the future.