Stem-cell technology that uses the body’s own immune system could not only hasten cancer treatment and reduce reliance on chemotherapy, but also be more effective in preventing a reoccurrence of the disease.
The stem-cell technology would help stop the cancer returning by reprogramming cancer-fighting T cells, The Scientist reported. T cells are a type of white blood cell that fights cancers and viruses.
The discovery by a team at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York enables scientists in a laboratory to mass produce an unlimited quantity of cancer-fighting cells that resemble natural T cells.
“This is very specific to the cancer cells themselves,” said Dr Michel Sadelain, the lead researcher.
“This means fewer side effects and secondly, because they stay in the body, they are ‘living drugs’ and once present move around and stop recurrences.”
In a study published yesterday in Nature Biotechnology, researchers revealed that the genetically engineered cells can effectively wipe out tumours in a mouse model of lymphoma.