Scientists use body’s immune system to destroy cancer

British scientists are using the body’s own tcells to destroy cancer cells, in a new treatment that could become available in the next five years.

This treatment, which involves taking a cancer patients blood, modifying the t-cells -the white blood cells that fight infection – and reinjecting them back into the body.

The genetically engineered cells which have been “fitted” with a tracker device lock onto the cancer cells and destroy them. The treatment avoids the terrible side effects typically suffered by patients having chemotherapy and radiotherapy and could be used alongside conventional treatments.

Researchers yesterday said that the ground- breaking approach had already produced ‘spectacular’ results and they were very excited. Trials are due to start later this year at the Christie Hospital in Manchester.

In the laboratory, scientists take t-cells from the blood and genetically modify them so they have an antibody device able to track down tumours.

Professor Robert Hawkins, clinical director of medical oncology at the Christie, said trials will begin on bowel, stomach and pancreatic cancers but would probably move on to other forms of the disease.