Friday, 27 April 2018

New 'Superblood' Treatment Targets Deadly Cancers


 Scientists are harnessing the untapped power of red blood cells to help fight deadly cancers and other diseases.

Nicknamed ''superblood,'' the treatment is under study by at least three companies following similar approaches. Researchers collect red blood cells from patients, modify them so anti-cancer or other medicines can be enclosed, then inject them back into patients. The goal is improve the medicines' effectiveness while reducing harmful side effects.

American Association for Cancer Research conference in April, researchers said that adding L-asparaginase, an enzyme that’s part of a multi-drug chemotherapy treatment, to red blood cells and injecting the cells into 13 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a blood cancer, appears safe.

"L-asparaginase is a very good treatment” for acute lymphoblastic leukemia," says Alison Walker, The less-toxic superblood approach also allows the drugs to target tumors more directly, experts say. The drugs also stay in the body longer, so superblood may be more effective in the long term. 

Experts say the new technology builds on another treatment advance known as CAR T-cell therapy. CAR T-cell therapy draws on the power of the body's T cells, known as the workhorses of the immune system, due to their ability to find and kill diseased cells.

In the CAR T process, blood is drawn from a patient, T cells are separated and genetically engineered to boost their tumor-fighting ability, then returned to the patient through an IV compared to CAR T, superblood has more advantages, experts say. The superblood treatment is easier to use, can be made more quickly, and is long lasting.

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