June 16, 2014 – T Cell Attack

June 13, 2014

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ANCHOR LEAD: T CELLS FROM TUMORS HELP FIGHT CANCER, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Can we somehow engage our own innate army, our immune system, to fight off cancer?  Such a concept has been a Holy Grail for many years in the cancer research community, and now a recent study reporting on harvesting a patient’s own T cells, which are one type of immune cell, growing many thousands of them in the laboratory, and then giving them back to the patient, has resulted in some dramatic results.  William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, describes the outcome.

NELSON: The cancer pretty much disappeared, so in a sense we’re turning the problem of cancer, acquired defects in genes that give rise to defective cell components, mutant proteins, we’re turning that into what we attack with the immune system, and I think that’s what the great interest in this study has been.  That suggests that there maybe ought to be many approaches to build T cells to recognize mutant proteins, to take the brakes off the T cells that already recognize the mutant proteins, but that that ought to be the target, go after the thing that makes a cancer a cancer.   :29

Nelson says existing technology should allow this approach in many more people with cancer.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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