A group of researchers from Europe finds a new form of immunotherapy which can help the immune system to produce interferons in order to selectively attack and kill cancerous cells. The scientists believe this new method will completely change the way cancer is treated.
The incidence of cancer is increasing worldwide at an alarming rate, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialized agency of the WHO Cancer Control Program. In the World Cancer Report 2014, data collected by more than 250 experts from 40 countries shows an increased incidence and mortality from cancers worldwide. In 2012, 14 million new cases were diagnosed, causing the death of 8.2 million people.
If this trend continues, these figures should rise to about 22 million diagnoses and 13 million deaths by 2030. Developing countries will be “disproportionately affected” by this increase because of the growth and aging of the population and lack of proper medical care. For instance, Over 70% of the total number of cancer-related deaths worldwide occur in Africa, Asia, Central and South America.
Despite billions spent every year, it remains alarming for a patient to hear from his physician, “I am sorry, you have cancer.” This is because of not only the pain caused by the illness but also the adverse reactions of the therapies.
In absence of surgical therapy, there are two ways to fight cancer: either the cancer cells (as well as healthy cells) are attacked directly with chemotherapy/radiotherapy, or they are attacked by the body’s natural defense, the immune system. The latter is better considering chemo drugs do not cure cancer. Instead, they damage both cancerous and healthy cells, which lead patients to experience serious side effects in addition to the symptoms of the disease.
A more effective method is now being considered to help the body fight against cancerous cells while causing few adverse reactions. A group of researchers of University of Fribourg have discovered a new technique to induce the immune system to fight against cancer cells. Their research is likely to offer a therapeutic alternative to patients. During the research, the team used substances capable of activating the immune system to direct them with precision against malignant cells.
The researchers pushed the defense system to produce interferons, a group of signaling proteins made and released by host cells in response to the presence of several pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, as well as tumor cells. “These molecules work by stopping the production of chemokine” a protein generated by malignant tumors to obstruct the immune system via its regulatory T cells.
“The therapeutic prospects are excellent,” says Professor Carole Bourquin, one of the scientists who published the findings in the Journal of Cancer Research. The world has been waiting for so long to have a better method to fight cancers,” states Mr. Rafael Delvix, founder of Cancer Effects. The researchers are so confident that they think clinical practice could be changed in a few years. Cancer patients will be able to receive better care, suffer fewer side effects, and have a higher survival chance.
When consider how the current cancer treatment tends to severely damage the organs in the body, this new technique is awesome. Maybe this is the beginning of the time where cancer will be considered and treated as a common cold.