Researchers have been battling to find the cure for cancer since we began to understand what cancer really was. A cure is the ultimate goal, but most medical professionals and patients would be ecstatic even hearing about new treatments. Current cancer treatments often come rife with side effects so severe that many choose to forgo them altogether. Stopping the growth of malicious cancer cells is the main goal of treatment, and removing them altogether is even better. The problem is, this kind of treatment almost always causes damage to surrounding healthy cells.
A treatment that changes cancerous cells into healthy, supportive cells sounds ideal. Transforming malignant cells into antibodies that would attack remaining cancer cells sounds too good to be true. Thanks to a groundbreaking study by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), this new, powerful form of cancer therapy could really be on the horizon.
An Accidental Discovery
The laboratory team was working on therapies for certain immune cell or blood factor deficiencies when they noticed some unusual effects of antibodies on marrow cells. They had been searching for antibodies that activate growth-factor receptors on immature bone marrow cells, meaning the antibodies would be able to induce these cells to mature into specific blood cell types.
After successfully identifying a number of antibodies that activated the bone marrow cell-receptors this way, the researchers noticed that some of the antibodies were having unexpected effects on the cells. Some of them were maturing into cells that were radically different from what had been expected, such as neural cells. This got the team thinking, could this method be used to convert cancerous marrow cells (leukemia cells) into non-cancerous cells?