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Immunotherapy research shows promise with mesothelioma

Immunotherapy research show promise with mesothelioma

Cancer treatment has made significant advances as more and more is known about how cancer cells function, and what can be done to stop their growth and destroy them. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, often caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Treating mesothelioma has been less than successful in most cases, and mesothelioma is considered incurable.

Nonetheless, research is continually looking for new methods of treating this deadly disease. Immunotherapy is seen as one potentially promising treatment. Immunotherapy uses the body's own immune system, which is designed to attack and kill infections within the body, to specifically attack cancer cells.

A recent study from the European Journal of Immunology explains research involving the immune cell, known as the Natural Killer cell (NK cell), to target cancer. This cell has shown anti-tumor ability by killing individual cancer cells.

Unfortunately, as cancer tumors become larger and more solid, the ability of NK to destroy them is diminished. The research team wanted to see if NK cells could be isolated and still be effective. They removed NK cells "from the lung fluid (pleural effusions) of patients with metastatic mesothelioma, lung, breast, uterine, colon, gastric or bladder cancer."

The researchers found that the NK cells they removed were not "functionally impaired," suggests that it might be possible to use these NK cells against aggressive cancers like mesothelioma by stimulating the cells. They found that when they were stimulated they showed "a potent cytolytic activity" against cancer cells, meaning they could cause the destruction of the cancer cells.

The scientists conclude that this research "may offer important clues for the development of novel approaches in tumor immunotherapy."

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma and Cancer Monthly, "Mesothelioma Study Could Improve Immunotherapy," December 4, 2012

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