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UNC researcher aims to 'unmask' cancer cells to trigger body's immune system
Date:8/20/2008

c acids as an invading pathogen, triggering an anti-tumor immune response. This approach differs from the classical method of actively targeting a tumor based on specific markers.

"Rapidly growing solid tumors are surrounded by imperfect, almost chaotic, blood flow," Cho said. "The tissue is very leaky. Because of this unusual permeability, the antibody-nucleic acid complex should become lodged in the tumor periphery. This should mimic a local infection, which the body will work to eliminate."

Infecting a tumor so that the body can see it and kill it is one element of immunotherapy, a cancer-treatment option that has been used since the late nineteenth century but has fallen out of favor since the development of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Radiation and chemotherapy are well understood and relatively predictable, but they can kill healthy cells as well as cancerous ones, suppress the immune system, and come with unpleasant and often dangerous side effects.

"You can use a sledgehammer to kill a fly," Cho said. "But I prefer to try a lighter touch."

However, getting immunotherapy to be consistently effective has been a challenge to science throughout the years, Cho said. Success or failure varies wildly depending on successfully infecting a tumor and the patient's reaction to the infectious agent. Cho's research focuses on the first step of developing a reliable delivery method.


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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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