As fall approaches, so does cold and flu season, and our immune systems are sure to be put to the test. Fortunately, our natural immunity is incredible in its capability to detect and destroy invading infections. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a cancer treatment that could do the same?
Well, the researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) had the same idea. Scientists decided to test whether disguising cancer as a viral infection would cause the immune system to kick into gear, and the results were incredible. By injecting small amounts of peptides (viral proteins) into tumors in mice, the immune cells were stimulated, shrank the tumors, and even prevented them from growing back.
The viral peptides used were from CMV (cytomegalovirus), a common virus that is recognized by most people’s immune systems and typically does not cause any symptoms. Once someone is infected with CMV, it stays with them for life. And, as John Schiller, Ph.D. of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research explains, “It’s one of the few immune responses that gets better as you get older.”
Immunotherapy cancer treatment like this also presents the chance for long-term protection, and initial research is showing this to be the case with CMV peptide treatment. And even when mice were injected with new lung cancer cells after being cured, no new tumors developed. Similar findings were seen with multiple types of cancer as well.
Besides showing to be extremely effective in the study, additional benefits that might be gained through CMV immunotherapy include:
- Synthetic virus peptides can be produced simply and in large quantities
- Treatment doesn’t need to be customized for each person or type of cancer
- It will likely be more affordable and less time-consuming to create than other immunotherapy treatments
Dr. Schiller adds that this truly is a “simple, off-the-shelf product that you could even use in low-resource settings because it doesn’t require sophisticated molecular profiling of tumors.”
While we excitedly await the results of upcoming clinical trials, Responsive Home Care is here to assist someone you love through cancer treatment and beyond with customized home care services, including:
- Serving as a friendly companion to brighten every day
- Preparing meals that work with any prescribed dietary plans, taking into consideration alterations in smell, taste, and appetite
- Helping with household chores and laundry
- Providing accompaniment to medical appointments, treatments, and procedures