The cure for cancer hasn’t been discovered yet, but a recent scientific breakthrough gives hope for improved treatment for leukemia and possibly cancer treatment , too.
Cancer – The Ongoing Battle
Cancer is the timeless enemy.
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2015 and about 589,000 people are likely to die from it.
In a normally functioning body, the cells keep dividing into new cells when the body requires. When old and damaged cells die, they are replaced by new cells.
In cancer, the cells begin multiplying relentlessly and spread out to surrounding tissues. Over time, the cells exhibit increasingly abnormal behavior – damaged and old cells no longer perish and new cells keep forming and dividing.
These extraneous cells may eventually become cancerous tumors. However, not all cancers physically indicate their presence through tumors. Leukemia, or blood cancer, is one example.
The current treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy among others, have proven to be highly effective.
However, they come with many side effects, some of which can be very serious. They do a solid job of inhibiting the growth of malignant cancer cells, but they also damage and kill the surrounding healthy cells.
While finding a cure for cancer would be the ultimate wish fulfilment, it still feels like a pipe dream. However, there might just be a way of turning certain cancer cells into antibodies that could banish the remaining malignant cells to extinction.
According to a 2015 study conducted by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, such a groundbreaking cancer therapy might be achievable, after all.
A Chance Discovery
As part of another study, the scientists were working to find therapies for certain cell and blood disorders. For this purpose, they exposed immature bone marrow cells to antibodies, hoping they would trigger the bone marrow cells to grow and mature into a specific variety of blood cells.
Their hopes were fulfilled — the antibodies had the desired effect.However, what they discovered next would take their study in a completely new direction. Much to their astonishment, certain antibodies had a completely new and wonderfully strange effect on the bone marrow cells.They triggered the maturation of the bone marrow cells into completely new cell forms – the types of cell forms the scientists weren’t expecting at all.
This raised a critical question: Can this method be used to transform malignant leukemia cells into noncancerous cells?
A Way Forward