New Immune discovery made by Cardiff University researchers could “treat all cancer”
Scientist have announced that a newly discovered part of the human immune system could be harnessed to treat all cancers.
The Cardiff University team discovered a method of killing prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests.
Although the findings (published in Nature Immunology) have not been tested in patients, but the researchers say they have “enormous potential”.
The scientist found that our immune system is our body’s natural defence against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells.
The scientists were looking for “unconventional” and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours.
What they found was a T-cell inside people’s blood which could attack a wide range of cancers.
“There’s a chance here to treat every patient,” researcher Prof Andrew Sewell told the BBC.
He added: “Previously nobody believed this could be possible. It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.”
The Cardiff team discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells. Whilst leaving normal cells untouched. s untouched.
This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body.
It is thought MR1 is flagging the distorted metabolism going on inside a cancerous cell to the immune system.
“We are the first to describe a T-cell that finds MR1 in cancer cells – that hasn’t been done before, this is the first of its kind,” research fellow Garry Dolton told the BBC.
What do the experts say?
Lucia Mori and Gennaro De Libero, from University of Basel in Switzerland, said the research had “great potential” but was at too early a stage to say it would work in all cancers.
“We are very excited about the immunological functions of this new T-cell population and the potential use of their TCRs in tumour cell therapy,” they said.
Daniel Davis, a professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, said: “At the moment, this is very basic research and not close to actual medicines for patients.
“There is no question that it’s a very exciting discovery, both for advancing our basic knowledge about the immune system and for the possibility of future new medicines.”