The One Million Project was developed to help raise funds for worthy causes like Cancer Research UK (http://www.cruk.org ) and EMMAUS which works to help the homeless.
The ongoing battle against cancer has had some successes with improved diagnostics for early detection and new treatments which have reduced mortality rates in some types of cancer. Cancer Research UK’s research has shown a potential breakthrough in immunotherapy. Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to destroy abnormal cells much like it destroys bacteria to prevent infection.
One of the challenges of immunotherapy in cancer treatment has been identifying specific molecules on cancer cells that can be targeted by the immune system. Specialized immune cells, called T-cells, need to recognize the specific molecules or “flags” on the surface of the cancer cells so they can destroy them.
Tumors change as they grow, and their genetic codes will also undergo change during this process. With traditional treatment modalities, these adaptations to the DNA can affect the efficacy and outcomes of current therapies. A persistent problem with immunotherapy is the effectiveness of the drugs used can vary significantly from patient to patient.
Researchers from Cancer Research UK have discovered this tendency for developing cancer cells to change can help make them visible to the immune system. The early DNA faults in the tumor’s evolution can persist throughout its development. These faults are the flags used in immunotherapy. Computer prediction models based on collected data on a variety of tumors are being used to spot these flags.
Advancements in this area could lead to personalized treatment therapies which would target an individual patient’s tumor based on the type of flag present on the cancer cells. Once the immune system recognizes these specific flags, they can destroy cancer cells with this indicator throughout the human body. Treatments would be systemic in nature instead of the current protocols which focus on treating cancer cells within a certain organ.
In June 2017, the research led to the discovery of significant amounts of a particular type of T-cell called tissue-resident memory T-cells in the tumors of some lung cancer patients. The patients with this tissue-resident memory T-cells are 34% less likely to die from their cancer. This cell is present in the skin and helps in its healing and repair process. Although continued research is needed to develop these theories, it is a step forward in understanding the role of the immune system in targeting specific cancers wherever they occur in an individual’s body.
OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.
Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.