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  • Writer's pictureEscalate Life Sciences

A Cure for Cancer Might Be on the Way

cancer cure

Every now and then, I'll see an article online about some scientist who has supposedly made a breakthrough discovery that could cure cancer. Almost exactly one year ago, I read about Israeli scientists who believed they had identified peptides -- which are similar to proteins but smaller -- that could cure cancer.

The chairman of the board of the biotech researching the potential therapy even told The Jerusalem Post that his company "will offer in a year's time a complete cure for cancer." I was very skeptical at the time (as were many others). And, sure enough, the Israeli biotech's hype hasn't turned into reality.

So when the BBC reported last week about British scientists discovering an approach that, in the words of one of the researchers, "raises the prospect of a 'one-size-fits-all' cancer treatment," I was doubtful, to say the least. However, the more I learned about the new research, the less skeptical I became.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that a cure for cancer is definitely on the way. But there's at least a possibility that it could happen.

As an investor and a healthcare investing writer, my mind pretty much always drifts to the investing implications of anything that could present a significant change. A cure for cancer certainly would bring about a huge change. And I think it could turn healthcare investing upside down.

A Swiss army knife for beating cancer

It's been known for a long time that immune cells called T cells not only fight infection but can also attack cancer cells. Several cancer immunotherapies are already available that involve genetically engineering T cells to fight specific types of cancer. For example, Gilead Sciences' Yescarta is a chimeric antigen T cell receptor (CAR-T) drug that was approved by the FDA for treating B cell lymphoma. The FDA approved Novartis' (NYSE:NVS) CAR-T drug Kymriah for treating large B cell lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Thus far, these CAR-T therapies have only targeted specific types of blood cancer. But researchers at Cardiff University in Wales have identified a type of T cell that could kill solid tumors as well. This T cell can seek and destroy cancer cells for many of the most common types of cancer, including bone, blood, breast, cervical, colon, kidney, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers. And the T cell doesn't harm noncancerous cells.

The key to this "Swiss army knife" for cancer is that the T cells hone in on the MR1 molecule. This molecule is present on the surface of every cell in the body. The Cardiff University researchers think that MR1 can signal to the immune system that a cell is cancerous. The special type of T cells that they've discovered can then attack and kill the cancerous cells, regardless of where the cancer is in the body.

There are several reasons why I'm more hopeful about this news than other past reports of potential cancer cures. First, the researchers at Cardiff have published their findings from lab tests in a scientific publication, Nature Immunology, instead of just making undocumented claims about their discovery. Second, their theory about why these specific T cells could be effective against multiple types of cancer seems plausible. Third, the scientists aren't overhyping their findings and acknowledge that much more research is needed.

Written by: Keith Speights(TMFFishBiz)

Published on: Jan 31, 2020 at 7:00AM


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