TB remedy could further the cancer fight

Scientists at St. George's, University of London, have found a way to assist the body's immune system against cancer using an old tuberculosis remedy. A vaccine created with the germ Baculillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)--often used to vaccinate against TB--stimulated white blood cells to produce cytokines, which identified cancer cells as foreign to the body.

"Cancerous cells are known to camouflage themselves as healthy cells," explained lead researcher Dr. Wai Liu, who worked with Professor Angus Dalgleish on the study, as quoted by News-Medical. "This means our blood cells responsible for immunity aren't able to recognise the cancerous cells as being a problem and so the disease is able to continue to spread. This study found that a small quantity of BCG--similar to the amount that is administered in a TB inoculation--can help the immune system recognise the cancer cells as 'foreign'. The immune system can then attack these cells in the same way it would any other infection."

According to their research, the BCG inoculation worked well on breast, lung and colon cancers; Liu and Dalgleish also tested the injection on skin and pancreatic cancers. The researcher's findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

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