British scientists have found a new type of immune cell that kills most cancers.
Researchers at Cardiff University found a T-cell and its receptor that finds and kills a wide range of cancerous cells, leaving normal tissue untouched.
They were analysing blood from a bank in Wales, looking for immune cells that could fight bacteria, when they found the entirely new type of T-cell.
The cell kills lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer.
The findings, published in Nature Immunology, have not been tested in patients, but according to the researchers, they have enormous potential.
The scientists were looking for ‘unconventional’ and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours.
T-cells have receptors on their surface that allow them to ‘see’ at a chemical level. This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body. It is thought MR1 is communicating with the immune system about cancerous cells.
T-cell cancer immunotherapy already exists and has been one of the most exciting advances in the field.
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The most well-known example is CAR-T where a living drug is made by genetically engineering a patient’s T-cells to seek out and destroy cancer.
CAR-T can have dramatic results, but the approach is highly specific and works in only a limited number of cancers.
According to the researchers their T-cell receptor could lead to a universal cancer treatment, but the research has only been tested in animals and on cells in the laboratory. More safety checks are necessary before human trials can begin.
Watch: New killer T-cell discovery:
*Via Highway Mail