Cancer is one of the most lethal diseases in people across the globe. Generally defined as the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, it’s also known as malignant tumor and angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) is thought to be an essential component of the ability of a tumor to invade locally and to metastasize from the primary tumor site. New techniques that could turn the immune system killer cells (T cells) into more efficient weapons against cancer and various other infections have been developed.
Micro arrays (TMA) and immunodiagnostic modalities are used to identify gene and protein expression patterns across a range of cancer stem cells. By studying how these patterns differ from those of normal adult stem cells taken from the same tissue, new strategies that block the self-renewal mechanisms of cancer stem cells without interfering with the function of their healthy counterparts have been developed.It also involves using the body’s natural defenses to destroy cancer stem cells with minimal toxicity to healthy tissues. Thus in a way, it is the monoclonal antibodies that recognize surface proteins found only on cancer stem cells, thereby tagging them for destruction by a patient’s immune system.
The use of cytotoxic drugs against cancer is limited by a number of factors, including toxicity, tumor resistance and lack of targeted cell death. Today, new strategies are based on increasing and improved knowledge of the molecular events responsible for disordered cellular growth and include antibodies to block receptors, small molecules that inhibit receptor mediated cell signaling, agents directed at suppressing growth of blood vessels that feed cancer growth, vaccines to stimulate immune recognition of cancer cells, cell cycle inhibitors, and gene therapy to turn off signaling pathways or provide a missing tumor suppressor. Snippets of DNA are delivered into skin instructor cells by a device known as a gene gun. The DNA directs the instructor cells to produce specific proteins, which act like molecular keys. When CD8 T cells (killer cells) interact with the instructor cells, the keys unlock the CD8 T cells’ killer properties – jumpstarting them to go out and kill pathogens and cancer cells.
Among the other areas of identification of new growth factor receptors associated with malignant behavior that can be targeted to suppress cancer growth, bone marrow transplantation, with resulting alteration in the immune system, is an interesting way to incorporate the use of vaccines, antibodies and gene therapy. This has even led to the use of herbal medications.