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Another string to our bow against cancer

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Cancer is a collection of diseases caused by the accumulation of DNA alterations that result in cell growth becoming dysregulated (1). As a result, different changes to a patient's DNA can result in different types of cancer with a wide degree of phenotypes. Not all DNA changes in cancer are random, some changes are more common than others. As such, there is a propensity for certain types of cancer to develop with common  underlying characteristics. Previously, it has been thought that through utilizing these common characteristics that therapies could be developed which would be able to treat a limited spectrum of this disease. Following this concept, through numerous therapeutics cancer as a whole would be treatable.

As a disease, cancer continually adapts to its environment through the many selective pressures. While both the innate and the adaptive arms of the immune system try to clear cancer, these mechanisms also act as a selective pressure on tumours to constantly evolve (2). As a result, cancer in different patients will often evolve similar mechanisms to persist and grow. Similarly, certain types of cancer develop comparable characteristics which may be targeted to clear the disease. It is these common characteristics that have been exploited for treating certain types of cancer, as finding a universal and treatable cancer marker has proven to be extremely difficult.

Like landing on the moon in the 1960’s (3), the notion of a silver bullet for cancer was a pipedream for those who attempted such endeavours. Therefore, it was a surprise when a UK led group of researchers recently published in Nature Immunology a possible one-size-fits-all treatment for cancer (4). This group of researchers isolated a T-cell clone that they demonstrated in vitro could kill a plethora of experimental types of cancer. When transferred to mice, this T-cell clone alone was able to significantly prolong the lifespan of the animals in a leukemia model. Currently, there seems to be no type of cancer this T-cell clone can not eliminate. While this discovery seems miraculous, it is very new and has to be further scrutinized. While a catch all cure would be prefered, cancer has repeatedly demonstrated the resilience of this disease to evade new treatments. A multiplicity of approaches remains the key for now and this potential new treatment adds another string to our bow. 

In this context, continuing to research novel biomarkers and mechanisms that drive cancer progression is of utmost importance and antibodies are great tools that have been used for research, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Here at MediMabs we specialize in the development of antibodies, please contact to find out more.