A new study has found that T helper cells in the body may prove vital for getting rid of cancerous cells. The new discovery might pave its way to eventually finding a cure for the disease.
T helper cells are a subtype of white blood cells that play a vital role in adaptive immunity – acquired immune system composed of highly specialized, systematic cells and processes that eliminate pathogens and suppress their growth.
They’re required for a major proportion of adaptive immune responses and are necessary for activating other white blood cells. T helper cells not only activate B cells to secrete antibodies and macrophages to destroy ingested pathogens, but also allow T cells to kill infected target cells.
According to Molecular Biology of the Cells 4th Edition, “As dramatically demonstrated in AIDS patients, without helper T cells we cannot defend ourselves even against many microbes that are normally harmless.”
A breakthrough study has found that T helper cells can be activated and modified in such a way that they target cancerous cells, engulfing and killing them. The study used previous findings of the aftereffects of immunotherapy where these helper cells were seen to become cytotoxic, attacking the cancerous cells.
As per the study, published in a medical journal – Immunity, researchers from University College London, “looked at the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning actions of the cells as part of an experimental study of immunotherapy that was carried out in mice.”
The results found that IL-2, a ‘growth factor’ in T cells, and Blimp-1, a ‘transcription factor’, we’re accountable for the killer activity against the mutated cancer cells.
A possible solution to the problem of only targeting the cancer cells can be modifying the T cells. T cells play a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system by ‘seeking infected cells and then killing them’. However, a major hurdle is making them act on the problematic cells only.
Since the cancerous cells originate from our own tissue, they are hard to be recognized by the lymphocytes. Hence, posing a major problem for immunotherapy.
Biomedical firms are looking for innovative and effective ways to prevent cancers from spreading, along with the treatment of other deadly diseases.
One such firm, Aethlon Medical Inc. launched their Hemopurifier – “one of the most fascinating, patent-protected therapeutic devices in the world”, in 2014. The device functions by “clearing out the cancer-promoting exosomes, while being synergistic with chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted agents”.
Hemopurifier has earned the title of a “Breakthrough Device” by FDA and is one of the highly recognized devices for “fighting cancer in cases of chemotherapy resistance, promotion of metastasis, and immune suppression.”
It is also labeled as “one of Time Magazine’s Top 25 Inventions and 11 Remarkable Health Advances in 2014. It was also recognized by the National Cancer Institute and awarded a grant in 2018”.
The T helper cell study paired with such breakthrough devices are paving a way for cancer’s cure along with increasing the market size and efficacy of biological sciences. According to researchers and scientists, such studies help in a better understanding of the ‘intricacies of our immune system and how it can be utilized to kill cancer cells and be used in therapies’.