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In a major breakthrough, scientists in Britain have found a way to direct or steer the immune system to kill cancer cell present in the body.
The researchers have come up with a method which helps in finding unique markings in a tumour also called it’s “Achilles heel” and then steering the immune system to target that particular area, BBC reported.
However, the researchers have said that this kind of approach to kill the cancer could be very expensive as it needs to be designed separately for every individual and the findings have not been tested in patients yet.
The researchers said that through the findings of the unique markings in the tumours, they have developed an idea of the treatment, however, the treatment could pan out to be more complicated in reality. Although, the researchers also said that the findings of the research could help form new effective cancer treatments which could be tested in patients in the upcoming years.
Prior studies have tried to steer the immune system into killing the cancer tuners before, however, the vaccines designed for it did not work effectively. It is because cancers are not constituted of identical cells, the cells are mutates and different areas in a particular tumour can behave in a different manner. This kind of mutation is also called the “trunk” mutation.
Commenting on the findings of the research, Professor Charles Swanton of UCL Cancer Institute said, “This is exciting.Now we can prioritise and target tumour antigens that are present in every cell – the Achilles heel of these highly complex cancers.This is really fascinating and takes personalised medicine to its absolute limit, where each patient would have a unique, bespoke treatment, “ BBC reported.
Talking about the trunk mutation of the cells, Dr Marco Gerlinger, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “This is a very important step and makes us think about heterogeneity as a problem and why this gives cancer this big advantage. Many cancers are not standing still but they keep evolving constantly. These are moving targets which makes it difficult to get them under control.”
The findings of the research were published in the Science journal.