Singapore has embarked on a cell-based clinical trial that may have far-reaching implications for future cancer research and treatments.
Singapore (PRWEB) October 29, 2008 -- Singapore has embarked on a cell-based clinical trial that may have far-reaching implications for future cancer research and treatments.
The trial, currently ongoing, involves up to 35 patients of advanced nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) and will likely be completed in late-2009, says Dr Toh Han Chong, Senior Consultant, Department of Medical Oncology at the National Cancer Center (NCC), Singapore.
Explaining the ground-breaking nature of this trial, Dr Toh says, "What we're doing is to extract T-cells from the patient's own blood, then 'educate' these cells to recognize certain viral proteins. These T-cells will be expanded into large numbers in the lab and returned back to the patients to fight the cancer."
T-cells belong to a group of white blood cells (WBCs) called lymphocytes. There are a number of different types of T-cells that act in many ways to identify, directly attack and destroy infectious agents and potentially even cancer cells. Along with other WBCs, they play a major role in the immune system, which guards the body against infection.
Likening the entire operation to growing an army, Dr Toh elaborates, "If we see the T-cells as fresh recruits, what we're trying to do is train them up to recognize a specific enemy. Once this is done, we then build up this fighting force from platoon to battalion to division strength. When they reach the battle field, they would know how to 'seek and destroy' the enemy while sparing the innocents in their midst."
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