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Promising Cancer Treatment Ready for Human Trial

Tumor-fighting white blood cells would be transfused into patients with advanced malignancy

MONDAY, June 30, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A clinical trial will examine whether a new cancer treatment is as effective in humans as it's proven to be in mice, say researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The treatment involves transfusing white blood cells called granulocytes from healthy young donors -- whose immune systems produce cells with high levels of cancer-fighting activity -- into patients with advanced cancer.

A similar treatment using white blood cells from cancer-resistant mice cured 100 percent of lab mice with advanced cancer.

"In mice, we've been able to eradicate even highly aggressive forms of malignancy with extremely large tumors. Hopefully, we will see the same results in humans. Our laboratory studies indicate that this cancer-fighting ability is even stronger in healthy humans," lead researcher Zheng Cui, associate professor of pathology, said in a prepare statement.

The researchers will select 100 healthy donors, age 50 or younger, who have white blood cells with high cancer-killing activities. The recipients will included 22 patients with solid tumors that aren't responding to conventional therapy.

"If the study is effective, it would be another arrow in the quiver of treatments aimed at cancer," co-researcher Dr. Mark Willingham, a professor of pathology, said in a prepared statement. "It is based on 10 years of work since the cancer-resistant mouse was first discovered."

This phase II study is designed to determine whether cancer patients can tolerate a sufficient amount of transfused granulocytes for treatment. After three months, the patients will be evaluated to determine whether the treatment provided clear clinical benefits.

Details of the study were presented June 28 at the Understanding Aging conference in Los Angeles. If this trial proves successful, the researchers will then look at whether this treatment is best suited for treating certain types of cancer.

More information

For more on cancer treatments, visit the National Cancer Institute.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, June 28, 2008
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