Cancer sufferers could be cured with injections of immune cells from other people within two years, scientists say.
US researchers have been given the go-ahead to give patients transfusions of “super strength” cancer-killing cells from donors.
Dr Zheng Cui, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has shown in laboratory experiments that immune cells from some people can be almost 50 times more effective in fighting cancer than in others.
Dr Cui, whose work is highlighted in this week’s New Scientist magazine, has previously shown cells from mice found to be immune to cancer can be used to cure ordinary mice with tumours.
The work raises the prospect of using cancer-killing immune system cells called granulocytes from donors to significantly boost a cancer patient’s ability to fight their disease, and potentially cure them.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week gave Dr Cui permission to inject super-strength granulocytes into 22 patients.
Dr Cui said: “Our hope is that this could be a cure. Our pre-clinical tests have been exceptionally successful.
“If this is half as effective in humans as it is in mice it could be that half of patients could be cured or at least given one to two years extra of high quality life.
“The technology needed to do this already exists, so if it works in humans we could save a lot of lives, and we could be doing so within two years.”