Has the long-sought one-for-all cancer-killing immune cell been found? Researchers at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine in Cardiff, Wales have discovered an immune cell that apparently kills most cancers, and they discovered it accidentally.
Researchers were examining blood while looking for immune cells capable of fighting off bacteria, but found a new type of T-cell. The newly discovered T-cell’s receptor seizes upon cancers while leaving healthy cells alone.
The findings by the team led by Professor Andrew Sewell have been published in a report called “Genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screening reveals ubiquitous T cell cancer targeting via the monomorphic MHC class I-related protein MR1” in the journal Nature Immunology.
The researchers at Cardiff University found that the immune cell killed cancers including ovarian, cervical, kidney, prostate, bone, breast, skin, lung, colon and lung cancers. What is unknown at present is whether this cancer-killing cell is rare or common but inactive for many people.
The existence of immune cells capable of fighting cancers is not new. Leukemia is presently fought with immune cells that are engineered to fight that disease. Those immune cells have not worked on solid tumors that most cancers present. The Cardiff School of Medicine’s research and discoveries offer new hope for solid tumor cancers. It appears to wok by attaching to the MR1 molecule present in cancer cells in every affected person. Professor Swell explained to Newsmax why that’s significant:
“Our finding raises the prospect of ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population. Previously nobody believed this could be possible.”
What’s next? Unsurprisingly, researchers are highly motivated to confirm the team’s discovery and to pursue therapeutic options based on it. According to Sewell and assuming that laboratory safety testing is successful, human trials could begin as soon as November 2020 with terminally ill patients.