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Implant Raises Cellular Army To Attack Cancer

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the zombie-medicine dept.

Medicine 193

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on a sneaky new approach to getting the immune system to fight cancer. An implant releases a 'molecular perfume' irresistible to messenger immune cells, which enter the implant where they are given a sample of the cancer's 'scent' and a disperse signal that sends them scurrying to the nearest lymph node. There they convince other immune cells to start attacking anything that matches the sample they picked up."

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first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419521)

yeah

First Prison Post :-( (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419883)

Dear Slashdot,

My name is Mike and I am serving the first week of a 10 year sentence in Federal Prison for severe SEC violations. I am very scared and I didn't know what else to do. I guess I have 5 good minutes to type this cry out for help until Tyrone and the crew come for me and give me what they call "Mandatory Showertime". I mean I have been exposed to more male cock in the first 3 days here than I have ever cared to know in my first 30 years of life. I guess it was some sort of sick joke that they gave me a big black cell mate named Tyrese who also part of Tyrones crew. As such he has first dibs on me or as he says "first dick in me". The nigger has beaten me senseless the first day here as he seems to get a real kick out of it and has repeatedly raped me and that's not even the worst of it. I never knew a man could cum 7 times in a row and with that I hadn't been able to get any sleep in the past day or so. The first time I met Tyrone was at our first shower time. Tyrese had "persuaded" me to go into the shower roo
m and that's when I met the whole crew. There must have been 19 prison niggers in there and when the guards pulled out, thats when I was given a gangraping that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Could you imagine 19 giant black cocks repeatedly ass raping and mouth fucking you? I think not, and don't think these guys went in one at a time. I swear it must have been 3 in my ass and 2 in my mouth at one point. I was in tears hearing Tyrone laughing at me saying "This be your life now cracka, you our bitch now". I still have the sharpie mark on my ass that says "Tyrone's ho". Uh oh it looks like it's mandatory shower time again. I think I am going to hang myself when Tyrese is out raping another white prisoner. Thanks for listening.

Thank fuck I had a sex change! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420055)

Now they throw me in with the women, if I'm ever stupid enough to find myself in the clink.

Re:Thank fuck I had a sex change! (1)

The FNP (1177715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420583)

Always remember, even if you have to bribe the MegaCops, you always want to be taken to the Hoosegow, never the Clink.

--The FNP
with apologies to N.S.

Re:Thank fuck I had a sex change! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26421051)

Mmm Tranny. Can I have the buttseks with you. I am pretty good and I know how to fuck a she he. We could play prison and I can be the guard. I am 14 I hope thats okay

Re:First Prison Post :-( (-1, Offtopic)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420097)

"Could you imagine 19 giant black cocks repeatedly ass raping and mouth fucking you?"

Sounds almost as painful as reading stupid racist filled rants by small minded idiots.

uhhh (3, Insightful)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419531)

this is pretty amazing to a layman such as myself..

Re:uhhh (4, Interesting)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419615)

I am a layman myself as well. I think this is encouraging for anyone out there who is sick... However, I am still wondering if the whole stem cell way of doing things for cancer research is the better approach. However after RTA I did see that all of the control group died and the mice with the implant 90% were cured. I would want to read a real paper on it in a journal. Just as a though.... What would happen if the implants do not work on all human beings / test animals/subjects whatever... Say... your body just starts literally killing ALL cells... cancer and normal... I am just wondering if they have a way to stop the process if they need to... Ah well. Good work Doctors!

Re:uhhh (4, Funny)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419727)

Time to quit quitting smoking!

Re:uhhh (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419919)

Time to quit quitting smoking!

My thoughts exactly... or almost. I was actually thinking:

WooHoo! I DON'T need to quit smoking!

Re:uhhh (1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420177)

That was my response.. I can still smoke!! WOOHO! I was orignally planning on spending 10k for a lung-overhaul in the future, but if i can just take a pill, thats cool with me ;)

Re:uhhh (3, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420475)

You jest, but if the negative effects of smoking were removed, then there should be no problem with it. Unfortunately, cancer isn't the only problem and possibly not the biggest problem caused by smoking.

Re:uhhh (5, Insightful)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420635)

Well, except for the whole, smelling like a walking ashtray, coughing up nasty flem, and annoying the hell out of everyone around you thing.

Re:uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26421255)

Congratulations on finding a way to spell phlegm that is just as disgusting as the subject matter!

Enjoy your "HOUKED ON FAWNICKSâ" award!

Unfortunately... (3, Interesting)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419889)

However after RTA I did see that all of the control group died and the mice with the implant 90% were cured.

I hate to say it, but that's over-interpreting. This appears to have warded off imminent death in the mice, which is a result that is very encouraging. Unfortunately, it likely did not -cure- the mice. When we see data indicating these mice have a 5-year survival which is greater than the control (uh... or whatever the equivalent is since even healthy mice maybe don't live 5 years) then I too will be celebrating.

The immune system would sort of be vaccinated against markers on the cancer cells, but there's no guarantee that every cancer cell will have the marker and will keep it. You can imagine that if 99% of the cells in a tumor do have it, the tumor may be killed by the primed cells, but that 1% that doesn't will repopulate a while later.

Of course, this may have a feedback effect. I'm no immunologist, but I would hazard a guess that if a tumor were being attacked in this manner, the increased activity in the area may start targeting that 1% too. Maybe. That could also be a downside, as you can imagine if the immune system is primed but learns the wrong marker, you suddenly have an autoimmune disease on top of the cancer. Once again, I'm not an immunologist, so I don't know whether that's pure crap or not.

So it's another good finding, and of course a way to fight tumors is a miracle to a patient even if it's not a complete cure. It might be a total cure, but let's not set ourselves up for dissapointment.

Re:Unfortunately... (4, Interesting)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420275)

You can imagine that if 99% of the cells in a tumor do have it, the tumor may be killed by the primed cells, but that 1% that doesn't will repopulate a while later.

This is why we haven't cured the disease yet. The tumor evolves and all that our treatments do, if they are unable to kill off the entire tumor, is select for cells that are resistant. I'm not an oncologist, although I am involved in medical research, but it seems to me that a more effective strategy would be to select for cells that are specifically weak to conventional treatment prior to administering it. Just as in machine classification*, a combination of individually effective treatments that work in different ways should tend to perform best, especially if resistance to one implies weakness to another.

*Because cancer treatment is really just one big classification problem: you want to kill all of the cancer cells and none of the normal ones. Get the sensitivity to 100% (all cancer cells killed) with a high enough specificity (most normal cells left alone) and you win.

Re:Unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420939)

Sounds like a job for support vector macrophages.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

AngelofDeath-02 (550129) | more than 5 years ago | (#26421297)

I am a bit worried about how close cancer cells are to regular cells ... Could this cause complications where the immune system goes after the rest of the body?

Re:Unfortunately... (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420581)

I hate to say it, but that's over-interpreting. This appears to have warded off imminent death in the mice, which is a result that is very encouraging. Unfortunately, it likely did not -cure- the mice.

"did not -cure- the mice" is an understatement.

FTFA: In tests, the researchers implanted cylinders with a diameter of 8.5 millimetres into mice and two weeks later injected the animals with highly aggressive melanoma cells.

All of this is academic until they can inject the mice with cancer then stick an implant in them and get a 90% cure rate.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420919)

That could also be a downside, as you can imagine if the immune system is primed but learns the wrong marker, you suddenly have an autoimmune disease on top of the cancer.\

It's not lupus.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

ianbean (525407) | more than 5 years ago | (#26421209)

When we see data indicating these mice have a 5-year survival which is greater than the control (uh... or whatever the equivalent is since even healthy mice maybe don't live 5 years) then I too will be celebrating.

Since the maximum lifespan [wikipedia.org] of a lab mouse is about three years, and the record is 5, you're maybe asking a bit much.

Don't get your hopes up... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419955)

Not saying this treatment won't work, just saying don't get your hopes up.

Mice don't usually live longer than 2 or 3 years, whereas humans do. The human body might already be doing stuff like that or even superior stuff.

So there's a high chance that what works for mice for age related problems won't work for humans.

Analogy: Researcher says, "hey I've just found that steel and concrete allows us to make bigger and taller mud huts", and then saying "We should use steel and concrete to make skyscrapers bigger and taller". When what we might need is something better than the usual steel and concrete.

Re:uhhh (5, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420103)

"Say... your body just starts literally killing ALL cells... cancer and normal... "

How do you think chemotherapy works? Or radiation therapy?

Both treatments kill *all* cells. The idea is to kill the cancer cells *first*, before the treatment kills the patient.

Re:uhhh (1)

Smooth and Shiny (1097089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420209)

"Say... your body just starts literally killing ALL cells... cancer and normal..." Then it wouldn't be much different from conventional chemotherapy treatments I guess. Current treatments do not differentiate between good and bad cells and just kill everything they touch.

Re:uhhh (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420921)

Cancerous cells, being defective already, tend to be more susceptible to further damage. So it takes less radiation/chemical to be lethal to a cancer cell than to a normal cell.

The treatments are still pretty savage on the normal cells, but it at least gives you a decent shot at killing the tumour before you kill the patient.

Re:uhhh (4, Interesting)

macklin01 (760841) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420225)

I am just wondering if they have a way to stop the process if they need to... Ah well. Good work

There has been recent work to treat autoimmune diseases by "erasing" the immune system's "memory" (e.g., memory B cells) by attacking the marrow with chemotherapy, then reseeding the system with harvested haematopoietic stem cells. Here's an example I find after a fast search [clinicaltrials.gov] . Of course, it leaves the patient with 0 immune system while it regenerates from the stem cells, and I'd imagine you'd have to redo all your vaccinations, etc., but I suppose that could do the trick. -- Paul

Re:uhhh (1)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420563)

So... no different than reinstalling a system OS, I guess? ;-)

Re:uhhh (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420759)

Complete with the "Pwnt by viruses within 10 minutes of booting up".

Re:uhhh (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420837)

Including the potential for your system (body) to be pwnd before you reload your anti-virus (vaccinations)? Hope you have a good firewall installed (live in a bubble)!

(Though, really, no one here will understand any of this unless we can force it into a car analogy...)

cure for cancer!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419575)

again!!!

Re:cure for cancer!! (2, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420245)

I know, right? The Visitors would have given us their cancer cure ages ago, if it wasn't for that stupid Donovan guy.

All well and good... (1, Informative)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419583)

...until we end up with Will Smith running around a post-apocalyptic New York hitting on mannequins.

Re:All well and good... (0, Offtopic)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419685)

I am more on the lines of a post cataclysm where everyone starts having dreams of some walking dude, and a old black woman in nebraska... the people gather to these this evil walking guy who can change into a crow, and the old black woman... ultimately God drops a nuclear weapon on the evil crow changling guy in Las vegas and the good people with the old black woman live happily ever after... or did then? As the crow changling evil guy was seen in the jungles! ::hides::

Re:All well and good... (1)

2names (531755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419803)

What is the title of this?

Re:All well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419895)

Stephen King's The Stand

Re:All well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419903)

Off the top of my head, sounds like The Stand.

Re:All well and good... (1)

steelcaress (1389111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419957)

The movie with the crow/evil guy was "The Stand." Based on a novel by Steven King. I was not a big fan of his stuff before, but the miniseries frightened me until it devolved into the forces of good v.s. evil. The first 3 parts were eerie, seeing a disease get out of control, and realizing we were the inventors of it.

The poster makes it sound a lot goofier than it actually is.

Re:All well and good... (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419987)

The Stand.

Re:All well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420233)

Stephen King's The Stand [amazon.com] .

Re:All well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420127)

If you had posted this 16 hours ago, I would have needed to stab you in the face over the internet. Now you have me wondering whether it's really God and not Trashcan Man in the movie/miniseries...

Re:All well and good... (2, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419943)

Psst, they weren't using viruses or anything contagious. Hard to see how small plastic inserts and protein could spread from person to person. Even if it did, it would cause an autoimmune disease, not reprogram you to be a vampire/zombie. And there are worse apocalypse scenarios than Will Smith hitting on mannequins.

Always good (1)

Blinocac (169086) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419593)

to see progress on fighting cancer.

If this were the internet... (1)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419613)

Response from messenger cell: "not ur personal army"

Whatcouldpossiblygowrong? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419617)

There they convince other immune cells to start attacking anything that matches the sample they picked up.

"We have bad news. We accidentally gave a sample of your husband's reproductive organs. On the bright side, he won't be needing a vasectomy at any point in the future"

ah, what about immunocomplex? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419641)

I am not a doctor, however -- isn't the main problem with cancer cells being that they have the same protein coating as normal cells that identify them to the immune system as "yours" versus "other"? The only way to kill a cancer cell that way would be with something that actually enters the cell and can then interact with the malignant protein. On the outside, cancer cells "look" the same to the immune system. Or is there a protein that expresses in cancer cells that can be differentiated from non-cancer cells?

Re:ah, what about immunocomplex? (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419765)

There are some differences...in fact, using reoviruses to cure skin cancer has been attempted - it was mentioned earlier [slashdot.org] on Slashdot.

Re:ah, what about immunocomplex? (2, Informative)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419799)

Bah, linked wrong article. Meant this one: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/11/04/1816227&tid=191 [slashdot.org]

Mod Parent up -- Thanks for the link (1)

ObiWonKanblomi (320618) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420719)

tnx

Re:ah, what about immunocomplex? (2, Informative)

cobaltnova (1188515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419815)

My understanding of the immune system is that class I MHC [wikipedia.org] molecules present certain antigens produced inside host cells ("self").

So yes, MHC is exactly this system you conjecture!

Re:ah, what about immunocomplex? (1)

SoopahCell (1386029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26421009)

I'm not a Biologist but I've read ~5 years ago most malignant tumor cells emit proteins that "encourage arterial growth" - increase bloodflow. Malignant tumors that don't will most likely starve so it's hard for cancer to get far without emitting that marker.

This... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419733)

... may be a problem if our immune system starts attacking the healthy cells instead.

What about long term life expectancy? It isn't everyday that we trigger a revolution inside of us!

But this is indeed an outstanding discovery.

Easily abused as a biological weapon. (2, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419779)

Incorporate this in bullets and you get 100% lethality.

"cellular army bullet" enters body, tip takes sample of nearby healthy cells, programs immune system to attack own body, person dies horrible death to both his own immune system and the pathogens which are now left alone by the distracted immune system.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

astrodoom (1396409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419811)

Don't even need a bullet. If/once this is possible in gas form, this could be the deadliest bioweapon ever.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (4, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419843)

It would already be trivially easy to make bullets that contained a lethal toxin, the reason we don't do it isn't because of inability. Yes, you could misuse this research (just like any other advance) but it certainly wouldn't be the bio-weapon of choice due to sheer inefficiency and slowness of effect.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (3, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419925)

It would already be trivially easy to make bullets that contained a lethal toxin, the reason we don't do it isn't because of inability. Yes, you could misuse this research (just like any other advance) but it certainly wouldn't be the bio-weapon of choice due to sheer inefficiency and slowness of effect.

that's the beauty of it. It's a terror weapon.

it will leave you in agony for days, weeks, or months knowing you will die.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

Mephistro (1248898) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420689)

"it will leave you in agony for days, weeks, or months knowing you will die" And for a good part of those days, you'll be a perfect suicide soldier, looking for revenge on the people who 'infected' you. It doesn't sound like such a good idea.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26421243)

Then you create an army of suicide bombers. If they were already willing to fight (and kill).. knowing the enemy sentenced you to a slow and agonizing death.. I think the easy choice for most would be going down in a blaze of glory.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420469)

See, applications of Polonium 210 to ex-KGB agents.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

xappax (876447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419905)

Yeah, or you could just put poison on your bullets. If your bioweapon requires a bullet as a delivery system, it's not that devastating.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419975)

Au contraire, as numerous studies and thousands, perhaps millions have discovered, there is little deadlier than discarded munitions, especially after war is already over.

Even better! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26419973)

No wait, I have something even better! Make bullets with a BOMB attached! Then you kill not only your target, but everyone around them as well! You wouldn't even have to aim! I think I'll name this invention after my favorite type of video game, the RPG.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (3, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419989)

Incorporate this in bullets and you get 100% lethality.

Well in terms of pure combat standards, an injured soldier is actually worse than a dead one, since the dead one can be carried off later, wheras the injured one needs immediate medical attention.

Your body releases cytokines every time you get cut, or shot. Your immune system manages to avoid killing you in those cases, usually.

Why bother with this roundabout way anyhow? If you absolutely want to kill everyone you shoot, it would be much easier and quicker to make a poisoned bullet.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420089)

Incorporate this in bullets and you get 100% lethality.

Well in terms of pure combat standards, an injured soldier is actually worse than a dead one, since the dead one can be carried off later, wheras the injured one needs immediate medical attention.

Your body releases cytokines every time you get cut, or shot. Your immune system manages to avoid killing you in those cases, usually.

Why bother with this roundabout way anyhow? If you absolutely want to kill everyone you shoot, it would be much easier and quicker to make a poisoned bullet.

in this scenario you get the best of both worlds.

Wounded soldier then gets carried off to hospital, where they tell him the bullet has given him an auto-immune disorder and he has X months to live.

News gets back to the front lines. Morale drops, and the will to fight dwindles.

Given how the effects would look like an auto-immune disorder, this gives totalitarian elements in "democracies" (do they actually represent ANY of us anymore?) the way to untraceably dispose of political opponents.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26421271)

Given how the effects would look like an auto-immune disorder, this gives totalitarian elements in "democracies" (do they actually represent ANY of us anymore?) the way to untraceably dispose of political opponents.

Crazy conspiracy theories based on undeveloped technology aside, soldiers on battlefields are not political opponents (at least not for several years). As far as applications to real intrigues, remember almost anything will give you cancer, some substances are far more potent at that than smoking. If you really wanted to take out a political opponent and wanted to make it look natural, there are far more effective and easy ways to do it. In fact, I'd bet good money that there are more effective ways to make it look like an autoimmune disease if for some reason it absolutely had to be that.

I'll wait for the results to say 100% that this would have no evil applications like what you're saying, but I will say I'm 99% sure that there are easier ways to accomplish those goals using other technology.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

twbecker (315312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420073)

Wow a deadly bullet??? Now that's innovation! Hopefully your tinfoil hat is thick enough to deflect these bad boys. /sigh

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (2, Interesting)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420189)

If it was that simple, you just need to aerosol the "disperse" signal, which the summary implies makes your immune cells immediately attack anything that matches what they were near at the time...fortunately for everybody, it's not nearly so simple. If it was, how could the chemical signal in question possibly exist? If your body ever released it, SOME cells would be closer to each other or other important cells! Almost as though the summary was a dumbed down explanation of how it sort of works? Plus if you want a poison bullet just fill it with cyanide? Or nicotine, which is a much more concentrated poison?

Anyways, how this works is, these cells are exposed to concentrated antigens, specifically targeted and formulated in the lab before injection. Cancer is mostly just like your own body. But cancer cells make their own proteins. The body ignores them sometimes, saying "oh they're coming from me, must be harmless," which is bad. But if you rub your immune systems nose in it and say "Spread the word", as it were, it can be forced into attacking it whatever is making these proteins. I believe there's been limited success with just injecting large amounts of antigen, but your body doesn't always get the hint. What we see here is a combination of getting high concentrations of antigen, with a technique for making sure the body actually sends immune cells to investigate! I'm not sure what happens if you gather up a large concentration of natural bodily proteins, but I think in most cases it won't trigger an autoimmune response. And you certainly have to do that concentration in a lab, not in a bullet ;)

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420249)

If it was that simple, you just need to aerosol the "disperse" signal, which the summary implies makes your immune cells immediately attack anything that matches what they were near at the time...fortunately for everybody, it's not nearly so simple. If it was, how could the chemical signal in question possibly exist? If your body ever released it, SOME cells would be closer to each other or other important cells! Almost as though the summary was a dumbed down explanation of how it sort of works? Plus if you want a poison bullet just fill it with cyanide? Or nicotine, which is a much more concentrated poison?

Anyways, how this works is, these cells are exposed to concentrated antigens, specifically targeted and formulated in the lab before injection. Cancer is mostly just like your own body. But cancer cells make their own proteins. The body ignores them sometimes, saying "oh they're coming from me, must be harmless," which is bad. But if you rub your immune systems nose in it and say "Spread the word", as it were, it can be forced into attacking it whatever is making these proteins. I believe there's been limited success with just injecting large amounts of antigen, but your body doesn't always get the hint. What we see here is a combination of getting high concentrations of antigen, with a technique for making sure the body actually sends immune cells to investigate! I'm not sure what happens if you gather up a large concentration of natural bodily proteins, but I think in most cases it won't trigger an autoimmune response. And you certainly have to do that concentration in a lab, not in a bullet ;)

Interesting, but you can bet your life the pharma companies are going to fight any efforts to certify such a technique tooth and nail. They make too much money off "treatments" to have an actual cure floating around.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420535)

Far easier to just use a solid metal bullet. The technology's proven itself reliable over the years. Also, while your body may resist this high-tech poisoning attempt, no immune system has ever been shown to have the ability to ignore your arteries being torn to shreds.

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26421093)

Screw bullets. Imagine if they could figure out a way so that if you inhale it....

Re:Easily abused as a biological weapon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26421331)

its a bullet just shoot em in the head. 100% lethality.

Unleashing the beast (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419785)

The human immune system is a pretty potent beast to unleash. Getting it to attack cancer cells is genius. I would be worried about side effects, specifically the immune system getting confused or over-stimulated and attacking other things, but that's just speculation and surely for highly aggressive cancers like the ones they tested in the mice the risk would be more than worth it. We already use 'cures as bad as the disease' to treat cancer.

On the same note, though, I was encouraged by the teaser at the end where they suggest using similar techniques to 'reprogram' the immune system to correct auto-immune disorders. Learning how to put the immune system back in its cage could be just as useful as being able to send it after a target.

Re:Unleashing the beast (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419901)

As someone with severe allergies I enthusiastically agree! Presumably, if they can give instructions to attack then they can give instructions to stand down.

Re:Unleashing the beast (2, Informative)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420015)

I Am Not A Doctor, but I believe once your immune system is trained to attack a particular type of something, it will always attack it whenever it discovers its presence. The immune system has no central dictionary of things it will or will not attack, but rather, is like a peer to peer system every component of the immune system shares some of the information of the entire body's list of "bad things."

Re:Unleashing the beast (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420387)

I would agree, except for the fact that allergies can disappear (or greatly reduce) on their own. Just like we can get a new allergy at any point in life, they can also disappear at any point. So there must be some way to defuse the overreacting immune system.

Re:Unleashing the beast (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420037)

The human immune system is a pretty potent beast to unleash. Getting it to attack cancer cells is genius. I would be worried about side effects, specifically the immune system getting confused or over-stimulated and attacking other things, but that's just speculation and surely for highly aggressive cancers like the ones they tested in the mice the risk would be more than worth it. We already use 'cures as bad as the disease' to treat cancer.

Lets wait for the clinical trials first. If you develop minor allergies, that's a tradeoff I'm willing to make in order to get rid of a life-threatening inoperable tumor.

The bigger issue will probably be that this will kill most of the cells of the tumor, but there will be a resistant fraction of cancer cells left that will repopulate, which you could feasibly seed again I guess...

yeah but once they have a taste for blood (3, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419789)

If watching three seasons of Dexter has taught me anything, it's that once someone gets a taste for killing, they have a need to kill again. What happens with this army after it kills the cancer? Who does it kill next? You're going to have a mercenary army running loose in your system desperate for another kill....

Re:yeah but once they have a taste for blood (3, Funny)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420049)

If watching three seasons of House has taught me anything, it's that once someone gets a taste for lying, they have a need to lie again. What happens with this army after it lies about curing cancer? Who does it lie to next? You're going to have a mercenary army running loose in your system desperate for another fabrication....

Re:yeah but once they have a taste for blood (3, Funny)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420509)

Watching three seasons of House should have taught you that if doctors think it is cancer, then it's not cancer, unless it turns out to actually be cancer. Also, the first five treatments they try will probably make things worse, and ultimately the patient will only be cured because of some random remark.

Re:yeah but once they have a taste for blood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26421303)

It's never Lupus, though.

Re:yeah but once they have a taste for blood (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420153)

We inject another army to combat them.

Say... miniature sharks with lasers.

Re:yeah but once they have a taste for blood (1)

felipekk (1007591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420669)

Time to give up condoms!

Re:yeah but once they have a taste for blood (1)

Anonymatt (1272506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26421175)

I have an indigenous agrarian tribe living in my pancreas. Recently they've taken to raiding my liver...

AYBABTU (1)

Dgawld (1251898) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419835)

all your lymph node are belong to us! WHAT YOU SAY!

Re:AYBABTU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420347)

too soon

Just thinking out loud... (1)

NtroP (649992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419909)

I'm sure I'm about to show my ignorance here (and the fact that I did not RTFA) but couldn't this approach work against anything the body needs to fight? I'm thinking HIV/AIDS, hospital drug-resistant bacteria, Ebola, etc.? Although, in the case of AIDS, I guess the immune system itself is already ineffective. I can see this as a much better alternative to the current method of introducing toxins into the body in the hopes that it kills the disease before the host.

Re:Just thinking out loud... (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420199)

You sort of answered your own question on HIV there. It sounds like, if the approach works, then the only people who will have cancer will be the people who have HIV or otherwise-weakened immune systems (like everyone they recommend for flu shots). This approach is about directing the immune system to attack specific cells that it wouldn't have otherwise. I think it would have limited use against things that are already identified as threats.

A long way from human use (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419913)

Obviously a long way from use in humans. But I am impressed with the out of the box thinking in this approach. It seems dramatic changes in health care are coming in then next decade.

http://pbrewer.blogspot.com/2008/12/dec-18th-lunch.html [blogspot.com]

"Molecular perfume"? (2, Funny)

exploder (196936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26419971)

As opposed to the nonmolecular kind?

Re:"Molecular perfume"? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420679)

They don't want to confuse it with elemental perfume.

Re:"Molecular perfume"? (1)

yeaummwhat (868741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420765)

I've always preferred the aromatics to the nonaromatics myself.

The right approach (3, Informative)

Tacubaruba (553520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420019)

When my father had lung cancer, I did a lot of research on cancer treatments and came to believe that the best possible treatment for cancer was to get the body's immune system to attack it. Especially for cancer that has spread, you need a systemic treatment that targets the cancer cells while not damaging the healthy ones and nothing will ever be as effective at doing that as the body's own immune system. This treatment is very encouraging and is on the right track. There are also several cancer vaccines under development that train the immune system to fight cancer before it takes hold. In the future, you may be able to get vaccinated against the kind of cancers that you are genetically vulnerable to.

Looks a lot like a vaccine! (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420119)

Vaccines work much the same way, I'm surprised it took until now to come up with this.

Of course, one has to wonder what the reprogrammed cells go after once the cancer's been eaten, since "cancer" is defined as the abnormal growth rate of otherwise-normal (at least for the location they were supposed to be in) cells. I could see an immune reconstitution-style problem popping up. Point a bunch of 'redirected' immune cells at lung cancer, for example, and there's a possibility they will "finish" the cancerous cells and decide the healthy lung tissue is "close enough" for a snack afterwards.

Thy apply the cure before the illness happens? (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420137)

"In tests, the researchers implanted cylinders with a diameter of 8.5 millimetres into mice and two weeks later injected the animals with highly aggressive melanoma cells."

This sounds ok for research, but in real life you would detect the cancer first and then implant the capsule.

The logical way to carry that experiment would be to implant the cancerous cells first and then, after some time, implant the capsule. I guess they would have done it first that way and if it is not on the report, that means that it didn't work as expected. That also means that this is just (very good) research, but they will need a lot more to come up with a working therapy.

Re:Thy apply the cure before the illness happens? (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420421)

So it's a vaccine rather than a cure? Meh, still pretty good. Won't help those who already have it, but people with high risk could be given it in advance.

Re:Thy apply the cure before the illness happens? (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420561)

I think the reason for this is that the capsule attracts the immune cells first, and only later releases the chemical that signals a threat, see the abstract of the real article: http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nmat2357.html [nature.com] So by injecting the capsule early (and by using a very aggressive form of cancer) they are able to have a more dramatic result since the immune system cells are already present at the location in large numbers.

I AM LEGEND (2, Funny)

jjohn (2991) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420305)

Did anyone else think of the latest movie version of /I AM LEGEND/ when reading about this miracle cure for cancer?

I'll begin hording food and guns now.

Re:I AM LEGEND (1)

Koppology (1401579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26421167)

The funny thing is, just when "I Am Legend" was released, a news release [yale.edu] came out from Yale saying that they were going to cure brain cancer using a virus.

The best part? The virus is "distantly related to rabies."

melanoma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26420361)

Reading TFA, it seems that they're dealing with a melanoma.
IANAMD (I Am Not A Medical Doctor), but since my wife was recently diagnosed with a malignant melanoma, I've learned a few things about cancer.
Melanoma is one of the few cancers that the immune system responds to. Immunotherapy is part of standard treatment for melanoma, but not for most other cancers. There is a good chance that this research will lead to helpful treatments of a few types of cancer, but very little chance it will help with most.

Missed opportunity (1)

JoJo's883 (642422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26420571)

How the heck did this get to 60 something post without the obligatory tie in to a similar product to attract super models to the geeks posting on /.??? Geez .. is there a subliminal message imbedded in the posts trying to get all our minds of the geek and girls dilema?
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