Cancer immunotherapy technology demonstrations continue to roll in. This one is representative of what is taking place in many laboratories these days:
Using an artificial protein that stimulates the body's natural immune system to fight cancer, a research team [has] engineered a lethal weapon that kills brain tumors in mice while sparing other tissue. If it can be shown to work in humans, it would overcome a major obstacle that has hampered the effectiveness of immune-based therapies.
The protein is manufactured with two arms - one that exclusively binds to tumor cells and another that snags the body's fighter T-cells, spurring an attack on the tumor. In six out of eight mice with brain tumors, the treatment resulted in cures.
"This work represents a revival of a somewhat old concept that targeting cancer with tumor-specific antigens may well be the most effective way to treat cancer without toxicity. But there have been problems with that approach, especially for brain tumors. Our therapeutic agent is exciting, because it acts like Velcro to bind T-cells to tumor cells and induces them to kill without any negative effects on surrounding normal tissues. One of the major advantages is that this therapy can be given intravenously, crossing the blood-brain barrier. When we gave the therapy systemically to the mice, it successfully localized to the tumors, treating even bulky and invasive tumors in the central nervous system."