Oct 26, 2014 03:19 PM EDT
Overwhelming developments in science and medicine have been catapulted by research, and this recent one, which involves the use of stem cells, could forever change the face of cancer treatment forever.
Researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered a way of transforming stem cells into a cancer-killing machine. Through genetic engineering, the stem cells were able to produce and secrete toxins harmful only to the poisonous brain cancer cells, without touching the healthy cells.
Reports from BBC News said that the experiment was conducted on mice and showed very promising results. In the test with mice, stem cells were surrounded in gel and placed at the site of the brain tumour after it had been removed. Their cancer cells then died after being exposed to the toxins.
The results of the study were published online in the journal Stem Cells.
Researchers said that they will next test the procedure on humans.
Dr Khalid Shah, lead author and director of the molecular neurotherapy and imaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said the results were very positive. "After doing all of the molecular analysis and imaging to track the inhibition of protein synthesis within brain tumours, we do see the toxins kill the cancer cells. Cancer-killing toxins have been used with great success in a variety of blood cancers, but they don't work as well in solid tumours because the cancers aren't as accessible and the toxins have a short half-life," he explained.
"Now, we have toxin-resistant stem cells that can make and release cancer-killing drugs," he added after seeing the effectiveness of the stem cell toxins in killing brain cancer cells.
This breakthrough research has been welcomed by other scientists and medical experts. BBC News took the opinion of some experts on the results of the stem cell experiment.
For Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, the study was a clever one and it "signals the beginning of the next wave of therapies."
"It shows you can attack solid tumours by putting mini pharmacies inside the patient which deliver the toxic payload direct to the tumour. Cells can do so much. This is the way the future is going to be," Mason said.
Nell Barrie, senior science information manager for Cancer Research UK, said the study was an "ingenious approach" and could help boost survival rates and bring much-needed progress for brain cancers.
With the good news brought by Harvard researchers, the future is bright in the world of cancer cure. And stem cells have proven once again the power it wields in revolutionary medicine.
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