I have to admit that cancer researchers are becoming very creative. There is a phase II clinical trial getting ready to start at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center which has a new twist.

The treatment is based on injecting white blood cells called ‘cancer killing’ granulocytes from healthy donors into cancer survivors with advanced disease in order to bolster their immune response. In the laboratory this treatment has eliminated 100% of tumors in mice with advanced cancer.

Lead researcher Dr Zheng Cui, associate professor of pathology, claimed: “In mice, we’ve been able to eradicate even highly aggressive forms of malignancy with extremely large tumors. Hopefully, we will see the same results in humans. Our laboratory studies indicate that this cancer-fighting ability is even stronger in healthy humans.”

The trial will recruit 100 donors aged 50 years or under who will be selected according to the high cancer-killing ability of their white blood cells. Some of their granulocytes will be removed, and injected into 22 people with advanced cancer that is not responding to existing treatments.

The researchers have named the treatment process Leukocyte Infusion Therapy (LIFT). The process has worked in laboratory tests involving human samples of cervical, breast and prostate cancer cells.

This type of process may offer us a new type of prostate cancer vaccine. Remember, what happens in mice and the est tube is not always reflective of what happens in humans. If the process does work we still do not know anything about dosing and toxicity issues. Only time will answer these questions.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW