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Naturally Occurring Molecule in Immune System Kills Cancer Cells

Researchers have found a naturally occurring molecule and a component of the immune system that could successfully target and kill cancer cells

Researchers have found a naturally occurring molecule and a component of the immune system that could successfully target and kill cancer cells, according to a study.

The study, published in British Journal of Cancer, discovered that beta-galactoside-binding protein, a naturally occurring molecule produced by immune cells can non-specifically target cancer cells, make them undergo cell death and through a stress response pathway make the cancer cells visible to the immune system to prompt an anti-cancer immune response that would secure protection against recurrences.

“By contrast, the anti-tumour property of the molecule is selective and not harmful to normal cells. It is effective against the most aggressive colorectal cancer cells and a wide range of other cancer cells equally unresponsive to current therapies,” said study lead author Professor Livio Mallucci from King’s College London.

“This research presents experimental evidence for a strategy where the targeting of cancer cells and the stimulation of immunity combine to prompt immediate and long-term responses against aggressive cancer,” he said.

According to the researchers, major developments in anti-cancer therapies have taken place over the last decade, but as only a subset of patients respond to treatments, there is a need for further development.

Crucially, there is a need to induce the immune system to ensure long-term protection against the recurrence of cancer.

molecule, immune system, body, cancer, kill cancer cells
Beta-galactoside-binding protein, a naturally occurring molecule produced by immune cells can non-specifically target cancer cells. Pixabay

Current approaches to achieve this involve killing cells by using chemotherapeutics and other agents which could be harmful and have uncertain outcomes, the study said.

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“Translation of the molecule to the clinic could open a new therapeutic opportunity which safely combines direct killing of cancer cells and the stimulation of the immune system against recurrences, a significant step forward in the management of cancer,” he added. (IANS)

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