Boosting the Immune System to Fight Cancer

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Researchers who have been studying how to use the bodies own resources to fight cancer have found a molecule that lies dormant until it interacts with a cancer cell and then it activates the immune system to fight the cancer cells. In their experiment, the researchers used interleukin-2 (IL-2) a chemical messenger that amplifies the effects of the immune system that turns on T cells and natural killer cells that recognize and kill cancer cells. Although approved by the FDA this chemical has serious side effects such as harming healthy tissue when active throughout the body. The researchers hoped to reduce the toxicity of the chemical so that it could be used more widely.

In their work they were able to direct the chemical and the turn on of the immune system to a specific area of the body such as prostate, thus, reducing the side effects of the chemical on the whole body. Their approach is to turn on a magnified immune system response in the neighborhood of the cancer cells to destroy those cells but to avoid a system wide immune response that could cause serious side effects. More information is available at:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412121247.htm

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