NOV 13, 2015 01:29 PM PST

Scientists Created Killer Cells To Attack Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes normally found in the body that play a vital role in inducing cell death in abnormal cells like cancerous cells. Unfortunately, cancer often spreads too fast and too far for NK cells to prevent fatality. However, scientists from Cornell figured out a way to give these NK cells a boost, so cancer won't be able to stand a chance.

Referred to as "super natural killer cells," these specialized lymphocytes designed by Dr. Michael R. King and his team from Cornell are programmed to find and destroy cancer cells in the lymph nodes. Also known as stage II or III cancer, tumor cells "hang out" in lymph nodes in preparation for metastasis (stage IV cancer). Killing the cancer cells before they spread could greatly reduce the severity of disease surrounding continuous cancer development.
 
An NK cell attacking a cancer cell

The mechanism behind the super natural killer cells involves injecting liposomes armed with specialized receptors that attach to NK cells already in the lymph nodes. These specialized receptors, called "tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis-inducing ligand" (TRAIL), enhance the already-working, apoptosis-inducing, cancer-killing behavior of NK cells. Instead of letting the cancer slip away to metastasize, the cancer cell population is completely eliminated.

"We want to see lymph node metastasis become a thing of the past," said King. The paper resulting from his study was published in Biomaterials this month. 

With successful clinical trials completed in mice, this technology is one step closer to preventing cancer metastasis in humans. Diagnoses of cancer types like colorectal, breast, and lung cancers in the lymph nodes occur between 29 and 37 percent of the time. This technology could stop the cancer from moving any further than this and subsequently save a lot of lives.

Watch the following real time video of an NK cell destroying a cancerous cell.
 

 
Source: Cornell University
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 16, 2018
Immunology
MAY 16, 2018
Antibodies Neutralize Two Different Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses
Scientists have found evidence for potential antibody-based therapeutics to treat more than one hemorrhagic fever virus at once. From Harvard Medical Schoo...
JUN 08, 2018
Cardiology
JUN 08, 2018
Interfering with Inflammatory Signals to Treat Arrhythmia
Part of the immune system has now been implicated in the development of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart arrhythmia that leads to stroke, bl...
JUN 14, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUN 14, 2018
Beware of Hotel Room Germs
Recently the CDC came out with a study that showed nearly 1/3 of swimming-related illnesses from 2000-2014 could be traced back to pathogens found in hotel...
JUN 20, 2018
Immunology
JUN 20, 2018
Immune System Accidentally Allows Meningitis Brain Infection
Several immune cells help fungi infect the brain and cause meningitis when they should be doing the exact opposite. From the University of Sydney, research...
JUN 30, 2018
Immunology
JUN 30, 2018
CD4 T Cells Responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
A specific subset of immune cells could be targeted to better treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A new University of Alabama at Birmingham study point...
AUG 08, 2018
Immunology
AUG 08, 2018
Doxorubicin Causes Heart Toxicity by Immune System Disruption
Chemotherapy drug Doxorubicin disrupts metabolism that controls immune responses in the heart leading to heart toxicity....
Loading Comments...