Genetically modifying a patient’s white blood cells turns them into potent cancer killers, UK researchers have revealed.
The team modified T-cells – the immune system’s first line of defence – enabling them hunt out and destroy cancer cells in test tube experiments. Both the cell types were taken from patients with advanced bowel cancer.
The technique had destroyed the cancer cells in every experiment so far, says team member Robert Hawkins, a medical oncologist at Cancer Research UK’s Paterson Institute in Manchester Hawkins.
The effectiveness of the new treatment will next be assessed in about 30 advanced bowel cancer patients, starting next year. White blood cells will be taken from the patients, genetically modified, and then transfused back into the patients.