A super molecule helps boost the immune system’s fight against cancer by eating up malignant cancer cells. Scientists have developed a chemical structure built of smaller molecules that bond, or click, together like a jig saw puzzle. This super molecule evades the cancer cell defenses and destroys it by eating it.
Super Molecule: How it Works
The largest immune cells in the body are called macrophages, a name that derives from ancient Greece and means “big eaters. Macrophages immune cells are the first line of the body’s defense against viruses and bacteria.
There are two types of these macrophages cells, called M1 and M2, and they work together as a tag team. M1 macrophages activate the immune system, by starting to fight against the infectious cells, while M2 cells treat the resulting inflammation.
On the other hand, malignant cancer cells can get past the macrophages attack by converting the combative M1 immune cells into M2 cells. It also sends out a “don’t eat me” signal to the M1 macrophages.
The super molecule simultaneously block cancer cells’ “don’t eat me” signal and also prevents the cancer cell from sending signals that turn M1s into calm, non-combative M2s.
Super Molecule: Test Results
Scientists tested the super molecule compound in mice with aggressive breast and skin cancer, and compared to an existing drug. Two weeks into the experiment, untreated mice had developed large malignant tumors. Mice treated with existing drugs showed smaller tumors.
However, mice that were treated with the super molecule displayed a complete inhibition of tumor growth. The study’s lead author, Dr. Shilad Sengupta says they actually could see the macrophages immune cells eating cancer cells.
Super Molecule: The Rise of Immuno-Oncology
The study authors conclude that cancer fighters should expand their approach by simultaneously attacking multiple targets within the cancer cell. A one size or one drug approach is not strong enough as evidenced by the cancer cells negating both the M-1 and M-2 macrophages cells.
More pre-clinical studies are planned to test the safety, effectiveness, and dosage of this new therapy. If successful, the super molecule will then advance to clinical trials.