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A one-two punch for cancer.

A two-step immune-stimulating strategy can prompt the body to fight cancer growth, Steven A. Rosenberg and his colleagues at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., have found.

In what they term a "preliminary" report in the Dec. 5 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, the researchers describe transfusing cancer patients with the immune system stimulator interleukin-2 along with the patients' own, previously collected white blood cells.

They tried the process on 25 patients with untreatable, advanced cancers of various types. One patient was cancer-free 10 months after therapy, in 11 patients the tumors shrank by more than 50 percent, and 10 patients had a partial response.

Interleukin-2 can induce white blood cells to develop in lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells, which kill cancer cells but not normal cells. Neither LAK cells alone nor interleukin-2 given at anything but near-toxic doses limit cancer growth.

While the researchers note that the findings represent "a possible new approach to the treatment of cancer, with potential applicability to a wide variety of tumors," they caution that the study involved a small number of patients and that the safety of the procedure remains to be determined. According to a National Institutes of Health spokesperson, the same sort of immune stimulation has been tried on an AIDS patient, but it is too early to tell if it worked.
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Title Annotation:two-step immune-stimulating strategy
Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 7, 1985
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