HealthScience & Technology

New immunotherapy to fight cancer, keep healthy cells safe

New Delhi, April 20 : A team of US researchers has developed a new immunotherapy technique that uses cytokine proteins as a potential treatment, effectively targeting tumours without causing harm to healthy cells.

Cytokines are small protein molecules that help control inflammation in the body. They are released by the body’s immune cells to fight against cancer and improve treatment effectiveness.

The team from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering developed the new technique which ensures that immune cell boosts cytokines which curbs tumour spread to other tissues or organs. It also preserved the cytokine’s structure and reactivity levels to not expose toxicity to the rest of the body.

“Cytokines are potent and highly effective at stimulating the immune cells to eliminate cancer cells,” said Rong Tong, associate professor in chemical engineering at Virginia Tech.

“The problem is they’re so potent that if they roam freely throughout the body, they’ll activate every immune cell they encounter, which can cause an overactive immune response and potentially fatal side effects,” he added.

In contrast, current cancer treatments such as chemotherapy cannot differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells, resulting in side effects like hair loss and fatigue, as it affects all cells in the body.

“Stimulating the body’s immune system to attack tumours is a promising alternative to treat cancer. The delivery of cytokines can jump-start immune cells in the tumour, but overstimulating healthy cells can cause severe side effects,” the researchers noted in the paper published in the journal Science Advances.

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