Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (say that five times fast!) has been doing cancer research with mice that has shown so much promise, they are ready to begin studies in humans!
About ten years ago, the scientists found they had a, sort of, super mouse. Call him “Mighty Mouse” if you want. This mouse was cancer resistant. The mouse and its offspring were used as white blood cell donors for other mice who had advanced cancer. The hopes were confirmed time and again, as 100% of the mice were cured.
They followed the same route with human research, doing testing on human cells though, not directly on humans. The were able to locate white blood cells with strong cancer killing ability, when using healthy young people. The same ability to eliminate cancer as the mice had, and preliminary tests are showing that the cancer killing ability may be stronger in humans than in mice!
The white blood cells in question are granulocytes which exist in the innate immune system whose job it is to fight off infections. Granulocytes contain little sacs that contain enzymes, which have the ability to digest microorganisms. While all humans have granulocytes, some have conditions that make them less powerful. For instance, the researchers have found that the granulocytes are strongest in those under the age of 50. They also discovered that conditions such as emotional stress can lower their cancer fighting ability. And the granulocytes are also strongest in the summer and weakest in the winter, which could be a partial explanation for why more people get sick in winter. To complicate matters even more, not all humans have granulocytes with a good ability to kill cancer.
The next stage in the research is going to be to harvest the granulocytes from healthy young adults now, while it is still summer, and transfuse them into cancer patients. They are able to determine if any potential donor has granulocytes that have a high cancer curing ability and they will be the ones that they use for the testing.
The scientists expect to have a high success rate and if it is the same as in the mouse trials, this could be the most important research ever done in the field of cancer cures.
The lead researchers on the project are Yikong Keung, M.D, Mark Willingham, M.D and Gregory Pomper, M.D.