Humans are now testing a novel cancer therapy delivered in powerful injections rather than extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments or surgeries.
Researchers at Stanford University found they could inject mice with two currently existing immune-stimulating agents and eliminate all trace of cancer in the mice. This also includes any potential metastases that could build up.
“Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumour itself.”
“Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumour itself,” said Levy, a professor of oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine, in an interview with the Independent.
“In the mice, we saw amazing, body-wide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.”
In fact, when they cured mice of lymphoma, they did so in 87 out of the 90 total cases. And the three mice not completely treated were because they had a small return of the cancer. The researchers then treated them with a second dose of the treatment and saw similar results to the other 87.
“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Levy. "This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”
In order to have such a high success rate, Levy and his team reactivate cancer-specific T-sells in order to attack the tumor.
Cancer treatment human trials will begin with 15 patients
For the human trials, 15 low-grade lymphoma patients will take the shots. Should Levy, his team, and their patients see success in the human trials, Levy's breakthrough out be one of the best updates to cancer research and treatment in recent years.
“This is a very targeted approach,” Levy said. “Only the tumor that shares the protein targets displayed by the treated site is affected. We’re attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing.”
The researchers do note that the two agents being used has been currently approved by the medical field for use in humans. The second part is a bit trickier, as the other medicine hadn't yet been used in clinical trials.
“I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system,” Levy said.
Ultimately, Levy and his team said that the final goal was to prevent diseases in a way to help good discussions around health and not focus too much on options that won't directly work for people.
No word yet from the Stanford team as to what their next steps are post-human trial. However, Levy said he wants a future where doctors only have to make people endure two shots in order to treat cancer. He and his team also want to do everything in their power to stop metastasis in cancer patients.