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Scientists Have Found A Way To Make Cancer Cells Kill Each Other

As soon as it was discovered, scientists constantly struggle to find a cure for cancer, since it is extremely needed and many cancer- treatments have unbearable side effects on patients’ health condition.
The aim of cancer treatments is to stop cells growth, but it is even more desirable to discover a treatment that destroys cancer cells. The disadvantage of the treatments used nowadays is the fact that they damage the healthy cells as well. The ultimate goal is a treatment which will transform the cancer cells into antibodies which will attack other malignant cells.
Although it may sound unbelievable, the scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) published an amazing study on new and powerful therapy which can be beneficial in case of cancer.
The team consisted of Richard A. Lerner, Institute professor, Lita Annenberg Hazen, professor of Immunochemistry at TSRI, some colleagues of theirs and Kyungmoo Yea, an assistant professor of cellular and molecular biology at TSRI.
They took acute myeloid leukemia cells from human patients and tested 20 of the lately revealed receptor- activating antibodies on the leukemia cells.
The laboratory team tried to find antibodies which will trigger growth-factor receptors on immature bone marrow cells, that is, to find antibodies which will make these cells to grow into specific blood cell types. However, accidentally, they discovered some unusual effects of antibodies on marrow cells during their work on treatments for certain immune cells or blood factor deficiencies.
Researchers showed that some of the antibodies that were found as activators of bone marrow cell-receptors, had surprising effects on the cells. Some of the cells transformed into something completely different from what they were thought, as neural cells. The team started suspecting that this method may be utilized to change the cancerous marrow cells (leukemia cells) into healthy cells.
The results of the research showed that one of the antibodies had amazing effect on the cancer cells. This is Thrombopoietin (TPO), a receptor found in the majority of acute myeloid leukemia cells and activated in marrow cells. The cells developed into blood-platelet-producing cells (megakaryocytes) when the antibody was inserted into healthy marrow cells.
Furthermore, if this antibody is inserted in acute myeloid leukemia cells, they are transformed into dendritic cells, which are very important for the immune system.
The fact that the cancerous cells were transformed into healthy, beneficial cells for the immune system, is an amazing success. Moreover, the study discovered that if antibodies and other regulated conditions were acting longer, the dendritic cells matured even more. A group of cells which were quite similar to natural killer (NK) cells was finally formed. These cells protect the immune system, so they attack the potentially dangerous pathogens and tumors.
 “That antibody could have turned those acute myeloid leukemia cells into a lot of other cell types, but somehow we were lucky enough to get NK cells,” stated Lerner.
These natural- killer cells were observed through electron microscopy and were found to possess several unique characteristics. Namely, they contain extending tendrils that succeeded in finding their way through the outer membranes of close -by leukemia cell – the cells which would be still there if the antibody was not inserted.
The lab test showed incredible results. Namely, numerous natural killer cells turned against their former brethren, but a small number of NK cells defeated about 15 percent of the nearby leukemic cells in 24 hours only.
Researchers noted the purely fratricidal nature of the NK cells, but they didn’t attack the unrelated breast cancer cells in great number as it was the case with related leukemia cells.
The reason for this action of the natural- killer cells is still unknown, but there is a chance that there are other undiscovered antibodies which will transform cancerous cells into NK cells as well.
Lerner named this type of therapy “fratricidins,” and he claims that it has several advantages. These antibodies are believed to be extremely beneficial and safer than the traditional treatments, like chemotherapy.  With little or no adjustments and high specificity of the NK cells, they will reduce the chance of healthy cells being damaged.
In theory, every cancer cell may be transformed, and the ultimate goal is the complete elimination of cancer cells, not only their partial reduction.
Lerner pointed out:
It’s a totally new approach to cancer, and we’re working to test it in human patients as soon as possible. We’re in discussions with pharmaceutical companies to take this straight into humans after the appropriate preclinical toxicity studies.”
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