A new cancer treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer is scheduled to start human trials in 2019.
The U.K.’s Telegraph reports that the new treatment, devised by researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London, uses implanted immune system cells from strangers to fight tumors, instead of old-school cancer treatments like chemotherapy — a new tack in oncology that the researchers say could boost cancer ten-year cancer survival rates from 50 percent to 75 percent.
The scientists behind the project explained it as a “do-it-yourself” approach to cancer treatment in interviews with the Telegraph. Instead of relying on chemicals or radiation outside the body to fight tumors, the transplants aim to help the bodies of cancer patients fight the tumors on their own.
“It’s a very exciting time,” said Charlie Swanton, one of the Francis Crick researchers involved in the work, in an interview with the paper. “Using the body’s own immune cells to target the tumor is elegant because tumours evolve so quickly there is no way a pharmaceutical company can keep up with it, but the immune system has been evolving for over four billion years to do just that.”
Swanton told the Telegraph that he believes the trials could lead to a whole new tool set that doctors will be able to use to fight cancer.
“I would go so far as to say that we might reach a point, maybe 20 years from now, where the vast majorities of cancers are rapidly treated diseases or long-term chronic issues that you can manage,” he said. “And I think the immune system will be essential in doing that.”
READ MORE: Cancer breakthrough: Scientists say immune system transplants mean ‘future is incredibly bright’ [The Telegraph]
More on cancer research: Researchers May Have Discovered a New Way to Kill off Cancer Cells