Melbourne researchers think they have found a way to turn off the cells that prevent cancer patients’ immune systems from beating previously untreatable tumours.
Updated Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:53pm AEDT
The Women’s Cancer Foundation and Monash University in Melbourne have just begun an 18-month trial using low dosage chemotherapy pills. They say it could save hundreds-of-thousands of lives each year.
Professor Michael Quinn from Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital says the new method involves using the patient’s own immune system, and less toxic cancer treatments.
“What we’re hoping is that by using this particular method of synchronising the patient’s own immune system, that we’ll be able to get better responses, more women living longer, and very importantly reduce the toxicity of any treatment,” he said.
He says while scientists have long known the body mounts an immune response to cancer, they did not know why this response was ineffective.
“What we’ve been able to show in the last four, five years is that there are other cells within the body that are inhibiting this normal immune response, and importantly that these cells are actually cycling every eight to 12 days, so we have our own rhythm of immunity,” he said.