At Rice University they are blowing up cancer cells with nanoparticle “bombs.” Like integrative immunotherapy, the new cancer-fighting technique kills cancer cells without harming surrounding healthy cells. Experimental trials have been so successful destroying aggressive and resistant cancer cells, particularly in the head and neck areas, that human trials are expected to begin in the near future.
Rice cellular biologist Dmitri Lapolko who developed the new treatment calls it quadrapeutics for the four techniques – nanoparticles, laser, drugs and radiation — used in this revolutionary new cancer treatment. Here’s how it works (Click here to watch a video.):
1. Colloidal gold nanoparticles filled with a small dose of chemotherapy drugs are injected into the body at the tumor site.
2. The nanoparticles are detonated with a near-infrared laser. The gold magnifies the laser’s effect which allows the use of very small doses of radiation.
3. As the laser hits the nanoparticles, they burst. The energy expansion creates a momentary bubble that blows up and destroys surrounding cancer cells, much like the shock wave from a bomb.
4. Chemotherapy drugs released when the nanoparticles explode deliver a second deadly payload to any remaining cancer cells in the area. With their cell walls already damaged by the nanoparticle explosion, remaining cells are quickly penetrated by the chemo drugs which are able to directly attack the cytoplasm at the cells’ heart, destroying them.
If human trials are successful, Lapolko believes quadrapeutics could be valuable in addressing complex tumors intertwined with critical organs. Increasingly the fight against cancer is being conducted on the cellular battlefield. Visit our website for information about cell therapy in cancer treatments.
Some cancer researchers are calling immuno-oncology the cure for cancer we’ve all been waiting for. While it seems too early to say we’ve won the war against cancer, what western medicine is calling immuno-oncology and Issels Integrative Oncology Centers call integrative immunotherapy, is clearly a giant step in the right direction. Even conservative members of the cancer community consider advanced immunotherapy to be “the most exciting development in cancer care” and have been impressed with clinical reports of “dramatically extended survival,” according to Canada’s National Post.
How Immunotherapy Fights Cancer
One of many problems with traditional cancer treatments — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation – is that they tear down the body, destroying healthy cells along with cancerous ones. Immunotherapy takes a completely different approach. By tapping into the power of your body’s immune system, immunotherapy works with your body, strengthening your body’s natural defenses and helping immune cells to identify, seek out and destroy cancer cells.
Cancer cells have a frustrating ability to disguise themselves and hide from immune cells. New targeted therapies use T-cells and Natural Killer Cells to unmask tumor cells and strengthen your immune system’s ability to ferret out and destroy cancer cells. Yale University immunologist David Hafler called the results of such treatments “mind-blowing.”
The use of autohemotherapy has also produced some amazing results in a number of patients battling late-stage cancers. Some patients who were told they only had weeks to live have found new hope as their tumors disappeared after immunotherapy treatment.
Boston scientists are attempting to use blood samples to personalize breast cancer treatment for women with rare forms of the disease. After filtering tumor cells from patient blood samples, researchers have been studying how the cells grow and begun to experiment with possible solutions for halting cell growth. The new technique has the potential to allow “real time monitoring” of tumor changes and usher in a new era of individually designed cancer treatments.
“Tumors change, and from the time that a woman is diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer that needs to be treated to the time that multiple treatments have worked and stop working, the tumors have evolved,” Dr. Daniel Haber of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center recently told the Boston Globe.
Real Time Monitoring
The new technique would allow oncologists to monitor tumor development and treatment resistance in real time and make treatment adjustments more quickly, hopefully preventing the spread of cancer and hastening the administration of more effective targeted therapies. The ability to track such changes through blood tests could also spare breast cancer patients the trauma of multiple invasive biopsies.
When Cancer Cells Circulate
The circulation of cancer cells in the blood stream is considered a strong indicator that cancer is spreading beyond the original tumor site. Cancer cell circulation is also believed to be a primary mechanism for metastasis. The ability to track the real time emergence of cancer cell mutations through blood samples is still a work in progress. While intriguing, researchers were only able to culture cancer cells in one-sixth of the blood samples.
Immunotherapy for cancer – the use of a patient’s own antibodies to create cancer-blocking properties – has been called everything from the disease’s potential “off-switch” to the “beginning of the end of chemotherapy.”
In recent immunotherapy news, Israel-based Compugen announced in July what it calls a milestone in cancer immunotherapy collaboration. Working with Bayer HealthCare, Compugen aims to develop and commercialize “therapeutic antibodies against two checkpoint protein candidates discovered by Compugen,” as the company’s website puts it.
“We are very pleased by the achievement of this initial drug development milestone for one of the two programs in our collaboration with Bayer,” said Compugen President and CEO Dr. Anat Cohen Dayag. “After investing more than a decade of extensive multidisciplinary research in establishing our broadly applicable predictive discovery infrastructure, we selected the area of checkpoint-based cancer immunotherapy as our first focused discovery effort. Therefore, it is extremely satisfying to see our growing competitive position, in terms of both advancement of our therapeutic programs in immuno-oncology and continuing discoveries of novel targets in this exciting area, which is increasingly being viewed as a potential major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”
More immunotherapy news
On July 13, Business Standard reported that an immunotherapy treatment had been developed to treat cancer in dogs. “Scientists at the inter-university Messerli Research Institute of the Vetmeduni Vienna, the Medical University of Vienna, and the University of Vienna discovered that a receptor frequently found on human tumour cells (epidermal growth factor receptor or EGFR) is nearly 100 per cent identical with the EGF receptor in dogs,” as the Press Trust noted. Scientists noted that “due to the high similarity of the receptor in humans and dogs, this type of therapy should work well in dogs too.”
Alternative treatments are not new, but have been used to battle disease or ease its symptoms for thousands of years, as these examples indicate:
Acupuncture has been an accepted and respected treatment procedure in traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times.
The use of herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, dates back to man’s earliest attempts to treat disease and has historical significance in nearly every human culture.
The therapeutic use of massage therapy also has its roots in antiquity. The Greek physician Hippocrates, considered to be the Father of Medicine, wrote about the therapeutic benefits of “rubbing” in the 5th century B.C.
Everything Old Is New Again
What is “new” in Western medical circles is recognition of the validity of these ancient therapies and their ability to enhance cancer treatment and mitigate the pain and side effects of traditional cancer treatments.