An experimental medical study has found a way to attack cancer cells by redesigning the affected person’s immunity system.
The BBC reported on Friday that the experiment is a “leap forward” and a “powerful demonstration of the potential of such technology.”
The study involved 16 patients, each of whom had personalized treatment designed to target weak spots in their tumor.
The experiment focusses on T-cells which are designed by nature to inspect and identify problematic cells for infections and issues like cancer, the British broadcaster reported.
“Cancers can be tricky for T-cells to spot. A virus is distinctly different to the human body, but cancers are more subtle because they are a corrupted version of our own cells,” the BBC report said.
The process involves finding the rare T-cell that already have receptors for cancer from the patient and harvest other T-cells that could not find the cancer, before redesigning them. The modified T-cells which can seek out cancer are then introduced back into the patient’s bloodstream, information published on the journal ‘Nature’ explained.
DNA manipulation and genetic modification is being credited with the advancement of cancer research.
“Transforming T-cells into a form that can hunt cancer requires considerable genetic manipulation to both remove the genetic instructions for building their old receptors, and give them the instructions for the new ones,” the BBC reported.
“It was made possible by tremendous advances in the gene-editing technology Crispr, which acts like a pair of molecular scissors – allowing scientists to easily manipulate DNA,” it added.
The disease reportedly continued to get worse in 11 of the trial’s participants, but stabilized in the other five. Larger studies are required to ascertain dosage and effectiveness.