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3 Reasons Why Cell Therapy is a Powerful Weapon against Cancer

May 06
16:39 2019

According to the American Cancer Society, a total of 1,762,450 new cancer cases are expected to occur in 2019. While traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are powerful and might work for some types of cancer, their success rate is not 100%. It is imperative that doctors have a variety of cancer treatments in their arsenals with which to treat all cancer types. One newer treatment that is showing promise is cell therapy. Though it is still relatively new, its success rate is impressive. Cell therapy possesses three main characteristics that make it a powerful weapon against cancer.

Characteristics of Cell Therapy Treatment

  1. Cell Therapy Works With a Patient’s Immune System

While other types of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can significantly weaken a patient’s immune system, cell therapy works with a patient’s immune system. Simply put, cell therapy is the transplantation of living human cells to replace or repair damaged cells.

As a treatment for cancer, this can involve taking a sample of a patient’s T-cells and altering them so that they possess antigen receptors specific to the patient’s cancer type, then injecting the patient with the altered T-cells. Another cancer treatment method using cell therapy involves modifying the cells to make them produce anti-tumor agents, then injecting the patient with the modified cells. In both of these examples, it is a part of the patient’s own immune system that is fighting the cancer.

  1. Cell Therapy Can Be Adapted for a Variety of Cancer Types

There are many different types of cancer. For all types of cancer, cells from a part of the body divide without stopping and may spread to other parts of the body. The differences in cancer types stem from which body part and cell type begins exhibiting this uninhibited growth. Since this uninhibited growth occurs in different types of cells, different mechanisms for stopping it are necessary.  The immune cells used for cell therapy can be modified to target specific cancer cell types and perform specific cancer-fighting functions. For instance, cells can be modified to excrete certain anti-tumor agents that can prevent brain tumor regrowth or growth inhibitory proteins that can suppress tumor growth in breast cancer patients.

  1. Cell Therapy Often Has a Shorter Treatment Time

Traditional cancer-fighting mechanisms like chemotherapy and radiation often require long periods of treatment and come with many undesirable side effects. Cell therapy is an attractive cancer treatment because it can have a shorter treatment period and fewer side effects. For example, one type of cell therapy called CAR T-cell therapy usually requires just one infusion of a patient’s own modified T-cells, followed by a maximum of 2 weeks of inpatient care. The side effects and recovery time are greatly reduced compared to chemotherapy and radiation, and the effects are long-lasting.

The CDC states that it expects the number of new cancer cases to increase by 24% in men and 21% in women between 2010 and 2020. In addition, every person has 1 in 3 chance of being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. These numbers illustrate how important it is for researchers to continue to develop new cancer treatments. As a result of this ongoing research, cell therapy has emerged as an important new treatment and a powerful weapon against cancer.

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