Scientists believe they now know how they can “steer” the immune system so as to make it able kill cancers.
They have developed a method through which unique markings within a tumor can be found- its “cancer’s Achilles heel”- for the immune system to target.
However, this method that is yet to be tried in patients will be expensive as it is designed for each individual.
Experts commend the idea and say that it is sense full although implement it in reality will be a tough thing to do.
Researchers are hopeful that the new finding will be the basis of new treatment in patients and plan to start testing it in patients within 2 yrs.
In the past, people have tried to steer the immune system so as to fight the cancerous cells but that has flopped largely.
One of the explanations for this is that the body is trained to go after the wrong target.
One of the challenges is that cancer consists of highly mutable cells that are identical bringing about a genetic mess. Samples in different locations in a tumor may behave entirely differently.
They have a cancer heterogeneity behavior. That is, they first grow uniformly like a tree trunk and then spread out in different directions like in the case of the tree branches.
An international study was able to develop a way in which the trunk mutations can be discovered which is responsible for effecting change in the antigens.
There are some immunotherapy treatments that work out spectacularly on some patients making the cancer to disappear fully.
What they do is that they free the immune system to fight cancer by taking the brakes off it.
According to BBC article, the researchers hope the combination of removing the immune system’s brakes and then taking over the steering wheel will save lives.
The study has been described to be an elegant one considering that the current situations make it difficult to design a personalized treatment for each patient.