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A new study has developed a method to improve the ability of T-cells to fight cancer cells.The researchers at the Cardiff University used CRISPR genome editing on the T-cells, a type of white blood cell.They applied genetic engineering on the T-cells and removed their receptors unrelated to cancer.After that, they replaced them with receptors specifically designed to find and destroy cancer cells.
"Up until now, T-cells engineered to fight cancer had two kinds of receptors – the therapeutic one that was added in the lab, and their own naturally existing one.Since there is only limited 'space' on a cell for receptors, cancer-specific ones need to compete with the cell's own receptors to perform their function.More often than not, the cell's own receptors win that competition, and leave 'space' for only a very limited number of newly introduced, cancer-specific receptors, which means that T-cells engineered with the current technology never reach their full potential as cancer killers," explained Dr.Mateusz Legut from Cardiff University and the lead author of the study.
The modified T-cells only use the new receptors which made them 1000 times better in tracking down and killing cancer cells.
The T-lymphocyte is a type of lymphocyte, a subtype of white blood cells, that plays an important role in cell-mediated immunity, an immune response that does not involve the presence of antibodies.There are two different types of T-cells – killer and helper.Killer t-cells have their own version of "x-ray vision" to see inside every cell in our body to detect any abnormalities.If the killer t-cells detect pathogens or cancerous cells, they will mobilize to destroy them.Helper t-cells control other t-cells and are responsible for regulating an immune response.They initiate killer t-cells and invoke the production of antibodies to attack pathogens or cancerous cells.
- They continuously scan the intracellular environment for foreign matter.
- They destroy cells infected with viruses or bacteria.
- They automatically destroy cancer cells and flawed cells.
- They remember the microorganism they encountered before.
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment option wherein the body's natural defenses are used to eliminate cancer cells.The therapy works either by stimulating the immune system to hunt down abnormal cells or by arming it with man-made proteins to help fight cancer cells.This therapy can help the immune system cope with flaws, especially in the following areas:
1.Recognizing cancer cells more efficiently.
2.Gaining a stronger impact in destroying cancer cells.
3.Breaching the substances released by cancer cells that keep the immune system in check.
Immunotherapies come in different types such as monoclonal antibodies that features man-made proteins designed to kill specific cancer types, immune checkpoint inhibitors that help the immune cells recognize a cancer invasion, cancer vaccines that can help prevent or treat some cancer types, and non-specific that generally boost the immune system to attack cancer cells.
There are some cancer types being tested by researchers worldwide for vaccine development.It includes brain cancer particularly glioblastoma, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer.
Disorders of the Immune System
The immune system has disorders and it can affect the person's ability to fight off infection.Disorders of the immune may lead to a weak or compromised immune system, overreactive immune cells or immune cells attacking other cells of the body.
- Severe combined immunodeficiency or SCID is a type of an immune deficiency characterized by missing important white blood cells.It is present at birth and children with the condition constantly suffer from bacterial, fungal, and viral threats.The immune disorder is commonly referred to as "bubble boy disease."
- Temporary acquired immune deficiencies occur when certain conditions temporarily suppress the immune system.These conditions include immunosuppressant drugs after an organ transplant, side effect of chemotherapy, and infections like influenza.Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as alcohol abuse, use of narcotics, smoking, and lack of sleep may weaken the immune system.
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus.The virus directly attacks the specific white blood cells involved in protecting our body from infection.Once the white blood cell counts drop to a certain level, opportunistic infections can make the HIV-positive patient sick.People who are healthy can easily fight off these opportunistic infections.
- An overreactive immune system causes an allergic reaction when making direct contact with certain substances called allergens.Common allergens include dust, food, and pollen.Asthma and eczema are common conditions associated with allergies.
- Autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune cells attack healthy cells in the body.Medical experts are still puzzled on the exact cause of autoimmune disorders.Lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and rheumatoid arthritis are some of many autoimmune disorders.