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I like the idea, sure

Scientists have discovered a breakthrough treatment to fight cancer, as they claim the disease will no longer be deadly for future generations.

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London believe it is possible to strengthen the body’s defences by transplanting immune cells from strangers.

Patients will begin to receive the new treatment next year, and the team now wants to establish ‘immune banks’ to store disease-fighting cells.

Memory tells that there are various things going on with extracting bits of the immune system, beefing them up, then injecting again. Working very well so it seems too.

But from other people? Confuses me – as with transplant rejection etc, isn’t the immune system, in a chemical sense, what actually makes you, you? Your one attacks that which isn’t you – thus, presumably, that of someone else attacks you?

Obviously, I’m wrong here, but why?

14 thoughts on “I like the idea, sure”

  1. It’s a known problem: graft versus host disease. Some kinds of transplants (bone marrow?) can attack the host with similar effects to autoimmune diseases. I hope they are very careful with their trials.

  2. Our immune systems are different but they are not that different. Otherwise blood transfusions and organ transplants wouldn’t work at all, and nor would viruses for that matter.

    Viruses and cancers operate partly by tricking the immune system into ignoring the fact that the cells involved are “wrong,” in terms of their purpose or their surface proteins. Effectively they fool the body into not killing them off.

    I would assume that someone else’s immune system is not “fooled” in the same way and so if you just keep adding T-Cells (The ones that kill any invasive organisms, and which if you’ve got AIDS you stop producing.) from the foreign source, they kill your tumor off, in the opposite fashion to the way in which immunosuppressant drugs work to make your body more tolerant of a donor organ.

    Computational biology has only arisen in recent years because it is now so cheap to sequence a whole genome, that we now literally have more information than we have computer run time to make sense of it all.

    Adam Savage, the guy who presented Mythbusters, has an interview with him here, and it all fits in with cancer cell analysis.

  3. I suspect that the journalist who is relaying the press release has misunderstood the science. The story is either incomplete or wrong.

  4. You’re not wrong, but this has been done for a long time (stem cell transplantation) in a different setting. It is still a last-line therapy because, even with a good match, mortality is still very high (though lower than the 100% mortality of not treating, obviously).

    In the leukaemias and lymphomas SCT is typically used in, you are basically trying to replace an immune system/entire blood-cell producing system that had to be destroyed in order to destroy the tumor. In this case, it looks like they want to complement your existing immune system that has failed to destroy your tumor. So, a second shot, may or may not work, worth trying.

  5. How much horseshit have we heard over the years about how they are gonna kick cancer’s arse etc, etc .

    In fact they are doing now what they did 90 years ago –just with slightly refined drugs, radiation machines etc . The slightly better results are explained by catching stuff earlier via screening or encouraging folk to be tested.

    Just more scientistico tripe. Ten more years to Victory!! .Twaddle.

  6. Not twaddle, Ecks. The predictions maybe. But non-solid tumour cancers are now largely survivable, curable even. Of the big four, breast is curable in many cases, and prostate an, uh, inconvenience.

    Tho I have to say, if I turned up with stage 4 colon or lung cancer, I would probably not bother with the chemo.

  7. Dr Valter Longo has done interesting research on the natural rebooting of the individuals’s immune system from stem cells after fasting. In order to apply this to human patients the ethics committee insisted that he rather use a fasting mimicking diet. This combined with chemotherapy ie fasting before chemo provides better outcomes than either fasting or chemo by themselves, the fasting causing normal cells to shut down their mtor system active in the fed state, but leaving malignant cells metabolically vulnerable both to reduced glucose and chemotherapeutic agents which mainly interfere with cell multiplication. During the fasting state the body uses accumulated debris within cells as well as ketones from fat to maintain life as well as paring back the immune system and priming stem cells to replace them once refeeding takes place.
    This years Nobel prize for Medicine was awarded for work on autophagy literally selfeating, the process described above as an essential function in a healthy body.

  8. Hmmm… BiG has the gist of it…

    From what is described it may be possible exactly *because* the foreign cells should trigger a strong immunoresponse:

    You train foreign T-cells to recognise and attack a specific type of cancer cell. The resulting immunoresponse wipes out both foreign cells and “own” cancer cells. Standard cascade response.

    The trick is to make the foreign immune cells specific enough, while at the same time inobtrusive enough to have time to actually hit their target. Not impossible, but tricky…

  9. ‘Scientists have discovered a breakthrough treatment to fight cancer, as they claim the disease will no longer be deadly for future generations.’

    ‘Patients will begin to receive the new treatment next year’

    This is crap science. They haven’t actually tested it yet. If you have confidence in your project, you continue with the project. If you don’t, you contact the press to get all the value from it you can.

    I.e., because this report is premature, it is highly likely to be false.

  10. I know a gentleman who for family reasons donates large sums to cancer research charities and as such gets big-donor lab tours and so on. A couple of years ago he told me that he’d been shown the immune system treatment and had been told essentially “We don’t ever say this, and it needs to pass testing, but we think we’ve actually got the cure for cancer here. It’s the Holy Grail”

  11. I used to donate big to the American Cancer Society. They directly helped me when I lost my first wife – the Good One – to non-Hotchkins lymphoma.

    Until one year they sent me a letter telling me my contribution would be used to lobby the government. Well fvck that. If the government is who is doing things, the ACS no longer has a reason to exist.

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