Researchers have developed a breakthrough method of turning stem cells into attackers to target and fight brain tumors.
The newly designed way introduces stem cells engineered to produce toxins which are able to kill brain tumors, without succumbing to their effects.
As a stem-cell-based therapy for cancer, the newly-developed method does not threaten healthy cells, according to a study report published in the journal Stem Cells.
The research conducted by the scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute was successfully tested on mice with glioblastoma, the most common brain tumor in human adults.
“After doing all of the molecular analysis and imaging to track the inhibition of protein synthesis within brain tumors, we do see the toxins kill the cancer cells,” explained the study leader Dr. Khalid Shah, the director of the molecular neurotherapy and imaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
He also stated that “cancer-killing toxins have been used with great success in a variety of blood cancers, but they do not work as well in solid tumors because the cancers are not as accessible and the toxins have a short half-life.”
The researchers claim that the newly-engineered stem cells which are resistant to toxin can make and release cancer-killing drugs with the capability of attacking solid tumors.
“This is a clever study, which signals the beginning of the next wave of therapies,” said the professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, Chris Mason.
“The study shows you can attack solid tumors by putting mini pharmacies inside the patient which deliver the toxic payload direct to the tumor,” he also noted.
Dr. Shah predicts that clinical trials with the therapy will begin within the next five years.
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