A cure for cancer has been one of humankind's largest and most frustrating goals for decades. It's pretty frequent for a report to come out on how scientists have uncovered keys to a cure, although media followup on those developments seldom takes place.
This time, a recent Stanford project is targeting the immune system as a critical foundation for fighting cancer, particularly in one series of experiments that were successful in eliminating tumors in mice 97 per cent of the time.
Encouraged by that achievement, the Stanford team is now looking for up to 35 human subjects, specifically folks with low-grade lymphoma, for availability to test two new drugs. So far, the drugs previously tested individually have been deemed safe to use, but have never been used before as a combination. Side effects of the drugs so far include fever and soreness, but no other symptoms of illness.
The latest stage in this research is based on findings in the study, Eradication of Spontaneous Malignancy by Local Immunotherapy, published in the January edition of Science Translational Medicine. Those findings provided enough data for the Stanford team to find out more about how to employ the clout of the body's natural immune system to fight the disease, which in 2016 killed nearly 600,000 people in the U.S. and is the second leading cause of death after heart disease.
As far as cancer research goes, bolstering the immune system is one of the newer pathways to find a cure and it's still in its infancy stages. But that's not stopping researchers from finding what they hope will be a vaccine of sorts to trigger our natural defenses. So far, only one cancer-fighting vaccine exists to treat melanoma, a skin cancer.
The Stanford research won't be a search for a real vaccine in the truest form, but an injectable fluid containing two elements designed to stimulate the immune system to get rid of tumors. Researchers state that no chemotherapy sessions will be required, although low radiation doses accompany the treatment. But they're also careful to point out that not one treatment will be effective on all cancers, since each type has a different way of reacting to immunity measures.
Pending the success of the research, the Food and Drug Administration might grant approval of the treatment in as early as a year.