Fighting cancer

Fighting cancer
A research team from Israel may have developed a new methodology to effectively treat cancer. The team discovered that removing oxygen from the killer T cells resulted in an effect..

A research team from Israel may have developed a new methodology to effectively treat cancer.

The team discovered that removing oxygen from the killer T cells resulted in an effect method to combat cancer.

Background

Cancer is one of the most debilitating diseases in the world. It is one of the leading causes for mortality and morbidity worldwide. In 2012, there were 14 million news cases. This number is likely to increase in the future. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, new cases are expected to rise by 70% in the next 20 years.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.

Analysis

A team of researchers from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have announced that they may have developed a new method to fight cancer. Their method reportedly reinforces the strength of the cells that fight cancerous tumors thus making treatment more effective. The research has been published in the medical journal - Cell Reports.

At the crux of the research is a cell called as killer T cells or cytotoxic T lymphocytes. The cells are effective in destroying damaged cells and cancerous cells amongst others.

Senior Weizmann Institute researcher Guy Shakhar explained the method by noting, “Just as altitude training increases endurance in humans, so putting killer T cells through a ‘fitness regimen’ apparently toughens them up. Killer T cells are the foot soldiers of cancer immunotherapy, they are the ones to target and destroy cancerous cells, but they don’t always manage to eliminate the malignancy. We’ve shown that by growing these T cells in an oxygen-poor environment, we can turn them into more effective killers.”

The treatment using T cells has so far traditionally successful in fighting leukemias and lymphomas. However, this method has not proven to be successful when it comes to fighting cancerous tumors. The team, however, has figured out a solution for that. The team has been successful in proving the merits of their methodology in a lab testing with mice. The mice that were treated with hypoxic killer T cells lived longer than the ones that were not. The researchers have likened this to the performance of athletes.

Shakar elaborated, “In cellular immunotherapy, T cells need to be removed and grown outside the body in any event. Growing them under low oxygen pressure is relatively simple, but this small adjustment to existing clinical protocols may significantly improve the therapy's effectiveness.”

The team is now hoping to test their hypothesis on human beings.

Assessment

Our assessment is that given the epidemic threat posed by cancer, it is imperative for researchers to continue finding new methods in combating the deadly disease. WHO has estimated that the number of people diagnosed with cancer will significantly increase in the coming years and hence it is important for scientific community to be ready to treat cancer.  

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