Two major physical illnesses have plagued mankind since their discovery. And according to researchers in Japan, cancer and HIV may be curable using the immune system.
Though great advances have been waged in the fight against cancer and HIV, neither illness has a known cure. That may have just changed, with a treatment developed at the University of Tokyo, RIKEN Center for Allergy and Immunology and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. The best part is the technique only boosts the power of the immune system, so the chances of transplant rejection are small.
Two experiments were conducted – one targeting skin cancer and the other targeting HIV, says the BBC. The team used T-cells that were combating the illness and converted them into stem cells, allowing the cells to dramatically multiply. Then those stem cells reverted back into T-cells. In theory, these new T-cells should have evolved to fight more effectively.
Scientists said the discovery was encouraging, but still early. It remains unclear whether the re-engineered T-cells will actually fight against the infections for which they were created. Additionally, even if they could serve their purpose, it remains to be seen whether the T-cells would be safe, states Medical Daily. There is little point in creating a cure that might kill in the end, as chemotherapy works that way anyway.
John Burn, from the Institute of Genetic Medicine voiced yet another concern:
“Even if these T cells are effective, it could prove very challenging to produce large quantities safely and economically. Nevertheless, there is real promise of this becoming an alternative when conventional therapies have failed.”
In other words, it might happen, but don’t get your hopes up just yet.