Progress Being Made Toward Cure for Cancer

A new process developed in Israel will enable researchers to separate the most common form of white blood cells into subtypes, potentially paving the way for a new cancer treatment.

Researchers are finding that some white blood cells, called neutrophils, are beneficial in fighting the development of cancer, while other neutrophils -- the bad ones -- promote cancer's progression. In the early stages of cancer, the good neutrophils with anti-tumor properties prevail. But over time, as the disease progresses, the bad, tumor-promoting neutrophils take over.

The process of sorting the good neutrophil cells from the bad ones may prove helpful for driving cancer treatment away from therapeutic treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, and all their negative side effects. Instead, the goal is to move treatment toward activating the body's immune system to help fight dangerous cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.

Good vs. Evil

"The novel distinction between harmful and beneficial neutrophils opens up new diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities," says Dr. Zvika Granot, who led the research at Hebrew University's Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC), along with Dr. Zvi Fridlender, at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical CenterEUs Institute of Pulmonary Medicine.

"We are currently evaluating the effects of boosting the helpful anti-tumor neutrophil population, while limiting the tumor-promoting neutrophil population," Granot explained, in order to see how it affects progression of the disease. "If successful, this therapeutic strategy may take us closer to developing effective new therapies for cancer.EU

In recent years, it became apparent that in addition to the cancer cells themselves, the healthy cells surrounding a tumor play a critical role in promoting cancer development. These cells, which provide a supportive environment that promotes tumor growth and allows it to spread, are potential targets for the new cancer treatments.

In this context, the role of neutrophils, which comprise between 50%-70% of all white blood...

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