According to the Spanish Association against cancer, in our country about 64% of people suffering from a colorectal tumor survive more than five years. The figure could increase dramatically if a new healing method that has just been tested on mice reaches the same effectiveness with human’s in future clinical trials.
The novel technique uses nuclear medicine to eliminate the tumor. In the tests with rodents, the researchers have achieved a cure rate of one hundred percent, and without the harmful consequences that these treatments entail.
The experiment, just published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, is the result of the collaboration of specialists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Exterminate without damaging
This new method is based on radioimmunotherapy, a combination of radiotherapy and immunotherapy. How does it work? Monoclonal antibodies bound to radioactive materials called radiosondes are injected into the patient’s bloodstream. When they reach the patient’s blood, these antibodies bind to the cancer cells (photo) and kill them with radiation. However, this method has limited effectiveness and causes damage to the patient.
What does the new test with rodents? According to Steven M. Larson and Sarah Cheal, two of the researchers who participated in it, “this work is novel because it achieves its objective without radiation damaging healthy tissues.”
To achieve this, specialists use the so-called theranic agents, a term derived from the union of the words “therapy” and “diagnosis”. These agents-the aforementioned radioactively charged antibodies-find the cancer cells in the patient’s body and then destroy them. In this way, they do not harm healthy cells, which minimize the effects of the therapy on the affected and improve their quality of life.
In this test, glycoprotein A33, a tumor antigen exclusive of malignant cells and found in 95 percent of primary and metastatic colorectal tumors in humans, was attacked with a specific antibody against it and a second antibody armed with a small molecule radioactive Result: all mice cured, and without side effects.
Larson and Cheal believe that this system could be used against other types of cancer: “If clinical trials go well, the repertoire of effective cancer treatments will increase. We have developed the technique keeping in mind that it can be applied to various tumors, such as those of the pancreas, chest, lung and esophagus, to name a few. ”
An increasingly common cancer
According to the data of the Spanish Association against cancer, “colon cancer is increasing in incidence in Western and developed countries. In Spain, between 28,500 and 33,800 new cases are diagnosed each year, about 20,000 in men and 14,000 in women. Colon cancer will affect 1 in 20 men and 1 in 30 women before the age of 74. ”
Preventing colorectal cancer altogether is a utopia, but specialists give guidelines to do it as much as possible. It is important to go through periodic screening tests from the age of 50, even if you do not suffer any symptoms, and before if there are family antecedents.
Several studies have found that the risk of suffering from this tumor increases with overweight, smoking, lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption and inadequate nutrition. Limiting red and processed meats and eating more fruits and vegetables could help reduce its incidence.