Fight Fire With Fire
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified antibodies that activate marrow-cell receptors and cause them to mature into radically different cell types. Now, they’re now working on converting cancerous marrow cells into non-cancerous cells. Tests have shown that the new antibodies cause acute myeloid leukemia cells to mature into immune system support cells called dendritic cells. Longer exposure to the antibodies cause further transformation from dendritic cells into natural killer (NK) cells, one of the immune system’s rapid-reaction forces.
"It's a totally new approach to cancer, and we're working to test it in human patients as soon as possible," said senior investigator Richard A. Lerner, Institute Professor and the Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry at TSRI. The NK cells specifically target only neighboring acute myeloid leukemia cells and not other cancer cells. The research team is currently looking into turning other cancerous cell types into fratricidal NK cells, which Lerner calls "fratricidin therapy."