A new clinical trial has proven that suicidal cells improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
A research team from the Huston Methodist Hospital managed to modify the cells of a prostate tumor into suicidal cells that make themselves visible to the immune system of the body, so it can attack them easier. Researchers called this method the ‘suicide gene therapy’.
The fact that suicidal cells improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy has been proven after a team of doctors from the Huston Methodist Hospital has successfully used this combination in treating 66 patients with prostate cancer.
For the more severe cases of prostate cancer, researchers used radiotherapy and chemotherapy besides the suicidal cells modification. Less severe cases were treated only using radiotherapy and suicidal cells.
The suicide gene therapy has been used two times on each less severe case of prostate cancer and three times for the more severe cases.
At the end of the study, is has been revealed that the surviving rate was of 97 percent for the less severe cases and of 94 percent for the more severe ones. This is an increase with 5 to 20 percent compared to the survival rate of traditional therapies, without suicidal cells.
Scientists at the Methodist Hospital have been able to manipulate prostate cancer cells into suicidal cells by using a cocktail of viruses. An adenovirus such as the one which causes the common cold is used as means of transportation responsible to deliver a gene of herpes virus into the tumor’s cells.
Once the gene of herpes starts producing thymidine kinase (TK), doctors start administrating valacyclovir, a drug commonly used against herpes, to the patients. Valacyclovir, together with chemotherapy attack the herpes DNA and the cells which produce thymidine kinase start destroying themselves.
The strategy mentioned above is also helpful for the body’s immune system since the suicide cells signalize their presence, calling the white cells to attack them.
So the team made out of valacyclovir, chemotherapy and white cells fights the cancer cells by attacking them from both the inside and from the outside.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Radiation Oncology. Authors are positive that soon their protocol will be used by oncologists from all over the world in curing prostate cancer.
More than that, other researchers could develop similar protocols, using suicide cells to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy for other types of cancer.
Image source: pixabay
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