Granulocyte Infusion Therapy Spreading into Clinics Beyond the US

You may recall the very promising form of cancer immune therapy pioneered by Zheng Cui that involves transplanting granulocytes from suitable donors - it performed very well indeed in mice, superbly in fact, but only the one anemic human trial is underway in the US. You might look back in the Fight Aging! archives for a report last year on where things were with this line of research:

You might recall that people were enthused a few years back over the work of researcher Zheng Cui, who showed that (a) one breed of lab mice shug off cancer because their immune cells are different in ways that enable them to kill cancer dead, (b) transplanting those immune cells into more vulnerable mice also kills cancer dead, and (c) this same state of affairs exists in humans. Somewhere, someone has an immune system that can kill your cancer. If you could find them and undergo a transplant of leukocyte or granulocyte immune cells, the evidence to date suggests that this would be a very effective therapy.

Unfortunately, one anemic trial and a little additional research is where things still stand, more or less. This is a funding and culture of medical development issue: it's not yet completely understood how the therapy works at the biochemical level, and the prevalent incentives are for research groups to strive to fully understand a mechanism so that they can apply for patents, develop drugs that manipulate those mechanisms, and so forth and so on. Fortunately, if work is well publicized and the scientific papers openly published, clinics and medical developers worldwide can get into the game - and not all of them have the same incentives as US-based scientists and other cancer research concerns.

So I see that there is a clinic in Mexico called NCIM that is now offering granulocyte infusion treatment, for example:

Earlier this year we at NCIM approached biomedical theoretician Dr. Anthony G. Payne and asked him for any ideas or suggestions he might have for bettering the lot of a middle-aged male end stage prostate cancer patient. As he had exhausted whatever conventional approaches were available for his particular malignancy this was time for heroic measures. With Dr. Cui's pioneering work in mind Dr. Payne then set to work to develop an experimental protocol that would combine the use of mismatched donor granulocytes from healthy young people with HLA mismatched umbilical cord stem cells from healthy newborns.

Caveat emptor and all that - this looks a great deal more ad-hoc than the Florida clinical trial setup, for example - but this sort of spread in the application of a well-publicized and openly published technique is exactly what I'd like to see happen for the range of nascent biotechnologies in longevity science. When I talk about Open Cures as a long term project for speeding up medical development and implementation, I am talking about helping to make the very early stage biotechnologies for repairing or slowing age-related biotechnology accessible and renowned, just as Zheng Cui's work and its scientific foundations have become. This accessibility helps to spur entrepreneurs, development groups, and clinicians to do what NCIM has done here - pick up where US-based organizations are slacking due to obstructive regulation or a culture of development that rejects implementation of working-but-not-yet-fully-understood therapies. It doesn't matter that the first wave of implementations are likely to include incomplete or incorrect projects - once things get underway in earnest these will be weeded out or improved.

The clinics that service the medical tourism industry are the natural starting point for this sort of spread of practice, but from their experience technologies will spread out into the region's medical and research establishment. This is ever a painfully slow process, but it is much, much faster than the alternative in which it never happens because too few people know of or understand the prospective biotechnology in question. People are only trying to implement granulocyte therapies because there have been years of advocacy and discussion - absent that, I'd wager this would another largely vanished line of research for now.


The Envita Medical Center in Arizona seems to be doing some similar things:

Posted by: Noah Nehm at December 8th, 2011 1:22 PM
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