A group of South Korean scientists said Tuesday they have discovered a novel way to get the human body to attack terminal and metastatic cancer growths, opening up new treatment opportunities for patients.
All humans have a subset of immune cells called natural killer cells that have the ability to select and attack tumor growths. However, such NK cells do not properly function in terminal and metastatic cancer patients because antigens called MHC class I, which can help the body's defensive systems attack malignant tumors, are absent.
The team led by Kang Chang-yool at Seoul National University confirmed that by injecting a substance called interleukin 21 in cancerous cells they were able to get the NK Cells to attack.
"The research discovered, for the first time, a way to remove cancer cells that do not have MHC class 1 antigens," said Kang. "We hope that the discovery of immune chemotherapy using IL-21 will open new cancer-fighting methods."
The research was funded by the science ministry and the findings were published in the latest edition of "Nature Communications." (Yonhap)