The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter

WHO rolls out new strategy to wipe out TB Warns common weed-killer can ‘probably’ cause tumour

Related

Scientists. Image source timeshighereducation

Scientists. Image source timeshighereducation

WHO rolls out new strategy to wipe out TB Warns common weed-killer can ‘probably’ cause tumour

SCIENTISTS have recorded three major breakthroughs in the battle against cancer even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) in commemoration of World TB Day has called for “global solidarity and action” to end the epidemic.

According to the first report published yesterday in DailyMailOnline, scientists recorded extraordinary success treating cancer with new vaccines they believe could be a ‘game-changer’ in the battle against the disease.

They have worked out how to teach the body’s immune system to identify cancer cells, allowing patients to be primed to destroy cancer. In one case, an American woman given just weeks to live was cleared of advanced blood cancer. She is still alive three years later, and her doctor says she is not a one-off.

British researchers are now working on a related approach which also involves taking T-cells, which fight infection, and giving them the ability to recognise a special tag on the surface of cancer cells, called the WT1 protein.

Though the research is being carried out on patients with leukaemia, the scientists hope their vaccines will eventually be used to fight many types of cancer, including that of breast, bowel and prostate – whose cells tend to have WT1 on their surfaces.

Over the past three years, specialist Guenther Koehne, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, has treated 15 plasma cell leukaemia patients with T-cells taught to recognise cancer.

The disease can be treated with chemotherapy-like drugs but it tends to keep returning. All 15 were expected to die within months given normal treatment. But following his regime, Dr Koehne revealed ‘about half’ were still alive.

In the second study, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that one of the world’s most popular weed killers – and the most widely used kind in the United States (U.S.) and Nigeria – can ‘probably’ cause cancer.

United Nations health chiefs, cancer arm have announced that best-selling ‘Roundup’, produced by Monsanto, contains an active ingredient that is “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.” Amateur gardeners and professional farmers have been urged to “think very carefully” about using the popular herbicide after a report was published in clinical journal Lancet Oncology on Friday.

The report revealed glyphosate was “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.” It also said there was “limited evidence” that the key ingredient was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, said scientific data do not support the conclusions and called on WHO to hold an urgent meeting to clarify the findings. The report was also posted on the website of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the France-based arm of the WHO. Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs, said: “We don’t know how the IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe.”

In the third study, scientists have found that chemical sodium formate could make a metal-based cancer drug 50 times more effective at shutting down cancer cells. JS07 shuts down cancer cells by disrupting their energy-generating mechanism.

The researchers found that it was particularly effective against ovarian cancer cells. Researchers from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom (UK), combined the chemical with a compound of the metal ruthenium called JS07.

How The Cancer Vaccines Work

How The Cancer Vaccines Work

 

Alone, the drug exploits the weaknesses of cancer cells and disrupts their energy generation. In combination with sodium formate (E-237), however, the researchers found that it was far more effective. The team’s research was published in Nature Communications.

More commonly used as a preservative in items like fruit juice and preserved vegetables, E-237 is derived from formic acid, commonly found in organisms such as stinging nettles and ants. In high concentrations, it can act as a diuretic but no side effects have been identified when E-237 is consumed in normal concentrations.

Stinging nettles themselves have a long history of medicinal use. Medieval Europeans used them to rid the body of excess water and to relieve joint pain. Today, people still use them in treatment for urinary problems, urinary tract infections, aches and pains, hay fever and insect bites.

Meanwhile, Koehne said: “I strongly feel this is a game-changer. Before treatment, I talked to these patients and they said to me: ‘I have no choice, let’s try this.’ They had extremely limited life expectancy.

A year later, they call me from work and say they are too busy to see me. That’s really happening.” His treatment involves taking bone marrow from a donor and splitting it into stem cells and T-cells. The patient receives the stem cells straight away but the T-cells are sensitised to WT1 in the lab by exposing them to fragments of the protein. The T-cells are then given to the patient in a series of injections over several months.

Dr Koehne’s first patient, graphic designer Ruth Lacey, 64, underwent the procedure in 2012 after being so ill following a relapse and intensive chemotherapy that she was ‘comatose’. But after receiving the stem cells and four T-cell doses, her cancer was reduced to undetectable levels. Koehne said that seeing her “in good health and in complete remission was clearly an extraordinary experience.”

In the British study, led by Dr Emma Morris – a haematologist at the University College London and the Royal Free Hospital, T-cells from up to 20 patients with acute myeloid leukaemia or chronic myeloid leukaemia were to be extracted, inserted with DNA so they recognise WT1, and then replace.

“‘Most people have immune cells which can’t recognise cancer cells, which is one of the major problems with tackling the disease,’ Morris explained. ‘‘We have genetically engineered patients’ immune cells so they develop receptors for the WT1 protein, making them much better at recognising leukaemia cells.”



No Comments yet