Excellent news – stem cells have been turned into cancer-killing immune cells, giving hope to those suffering from cancer, as this could allow mass production of treatment in those cases where immune therapy works.
Our immune systems not only fight off invaders that arrive from outside the body, but they are also able to identify cells that have gone bad inside our bodies, too.
The immune system, however, has its limits, and although cancer cells are similar to ‘normal’ ones, some evolve ways to avoid detection, and can even use the immune system’s own signals to tamp down its activity.
A number of researchers have been looking for ways to re-establish the immune system’s superiority, boosting it in a way that it once again clears out cancer cells. One option for doing so has been to simply boost the cells that already recognise a tumour by isolating them and growing them in large numbers in culture.
Researchers have figured out a way of taking stem cells, converting them into immune cells, and directing them to attack one type of cancer. Thought not all types of cancer are likely to be vulnerable to this attack, techniques like these may ultimately help control the ones that the immune system does attack.