Experimental Cancer Treatment Shows Promise
Posted by maikeru76 on June 23, 2008
A 52-year-old man from Oregon stricken with melanoma (a type of skin cancer) and who was given less than a year to live has experienced remission from his cancer. The treatment that he went under involved the use of still-experimental technology that ramped up his immune system so strongly that it killed his remaining tumors.
This surprising, just-released finding is considered to be a part of the increasing small successes in the use of experimental immune-boosting technology in treatment of hard-to-treat cancers like melanoma. It was noted in the latest study, released on June 18 Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, that the experimental treatment protocol given to this patient was the only remission in a small study done involving 8 other patients done two years ago.
Doctors and research scientists have long drawn up theories and done studies to test the premise of boosting a person’s immune system to cure cancer as far back as 20 years ago. The focus of this study, done by doctors and researchers of doctors of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, were using the patient’s own “helper T-cells” in his blood extracted and modified in a laboratory. These were then injected back into his bloodstream. These “helper cells” were thought to guide the killer T-cells to the cancer cells resulting in the remission. Another finding that boosted cancer researchers enthusiasm in this type of treatment are the negligible negative side effects as compared to other conventional treatments.
Other ways of helping or modifying the human immune response to defeat cancer cells are still being perfected. One controversial technology (at least in the U.S.) is the use of stem cells to help in the campaign to finally find a cure for treatment-resistant or hard-to-access types of cancer like glioblastomas (a type of brain cancer).
The discovery that adult stem cell technology can be as effective as the very controversial embryonic stem cells (extraction involves the destruction of human embryos) last year has spurred renewed interest in the use of stem cell technology as a treatment, not only of cancer but other serious, life-threatening diseases as well. The downside is that the cells extracted using the latest techniques do not survive in the human body long enough to be effective.
As treatments get more sophisticated and new findings are being released, what we could do right now is reduce, if not eliminate, factors such as smoking, heavy consumption of processed food and lack of excercise that contribute to the development of serious diseases. As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.