Docs create killer T cells to destroy cancer, maybe even HIV

Posted at 4:03 PM, Jan 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-04 16:03:54-05

Wouldn’t it be great if your immune system that already fights infections could also kill cancer?

Japanese scientists say they’ve created immune system cells that are capable of killing cancer.  The killer T cells pave the way for cancer treatments and HIV.  The hope is to inject huge quantities of these cells into patients so they will seek out cancer in the body and destroy it.

How does it work?

In the past, doctors have used other killer T cells that were produced in the lab, but they didn’t live very long. So their use as a cancer fighter was limited.

But these new cells last longer and they can be developed to target specific types of cancer.  So, if you have skin cancer for example, the scientists can program these cells to seek and destroy skin cancer cells and inject them into your body.

When they enter your blood stream they find those cancer cells and kill them.

What’s the next step? When will this treatment be available for people?

The next step is to make sure these cells kill only the cancer cells and no other cells in the body.

If that’s the case, then researchers say the plan would be to directly inject them into patients for treatment of cancer and that could happen in what they’re calling the “not so distant future.”

Before that happens, there’s still a lot of work to be done as well as animal testing before they can even think about clinical trials.