Researchers discover immune cell that kills cancer cells

Based on inputs by Prerna Mahrotra Gupta

A new type of immune cell that kills most cancers was discovered by researchers at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine. The team has published the findings in the journal – Nature Immunology.

The lead author of the study and Cardiff expert, Professor Andrew Sewell, called the discovery “highly unusual” and indicated that it could be developed into a universal, broad-based therapy. “This was a serendipitous finding, nobody knew this cell existed,” Sewell told.

The discovery is special as the cell was found to work on most human cancers, such as including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer – something no present therapies (CAR-T and TCR-T) can claim, the paper reported.

The accidental discovery was made when the scientists were analysing blood samples for immune cells that could fight bacteria. They instead discovered the T-cell, a never-before-seen receptor that only latches on to cancerous cells, ignoring healthy ones.

Also, Sewell did not dismiss the idea that lots of people could have the cancer-immune cells or that most people have the cell, but the “receptor has not activated yet”.

How does it work?

Testing on mice, so far, have yielded encouraging results, and Sewell added that the ‘right people’ are interested in developing the new therapy, which means progress would be “quite fast”. They expect human trials on terminally ill patients as early as November 2020, once it passes laboratory safety testing.

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