Scientists at Harvard University believe they may have found a new and effective way of fighting brain cancer. The strategy involves using stem cells to target and remove tumors.
Recently, scientists at the Harvard Medical School tested stem cells genetically engineered to produce toxins capable of killing brain tumors without harming other, normal cells.
The tests, which showed great promise, were carried out on mice. Now, the Harvard team is planning to test the procedure on humans. The research team will also start new therapies on mice with glioblastoma, the most common type of brain tumor found in humans.
Dr. Khalid Shah, director of the molecular neurotherapy and imaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says he’s hopeful the experiment will lead to new results for cancer research.
“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,” Khalid said. “Now, we have toxin-resistant stem cells that can make and release cancer-killing drugs.”
Another expert in this field, Chris Mason, who is professor of regenerative medicine at University College, London,says this could represent the “next wave” of cancer research and treatment.
“It shows you can attack solid tumours by putting mini pharmacies inside the patient which deliver the toxic payload direct to the tumour,” Mason said. “Cells can do so much. This is the way the future is going to be.”