hope for treatment sparked by dog ​​parasite

Without risk for humans, it could be the basis of a treatment against resistant cancers.

Of course, cancer research is making progress. Both in terms of screening and treatment. Only, some of them remain incurable.

But immunotherapy is making great strides. In Tours, a university team is working on the study of a non-pathogenic micro-organism for humans, and which could well accelerate the discovery of treatments for these types of cancer.

A useful parasite against cancer

In The Conversation, two of these researchers in Tours, Arthur Battistoni (PhD student) and Françoise Debierre-Grockiego (researcher and teacher), recall the interest of immunotherapy:

Unlike chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which prevent the multiplication of tumor cells, but induce serious side effects (because these treatments also attack non-cancerous cells in the body), immunotherapy stimulates the immune system of the patient to fight more specifically against cancer.

This parasite is Neospora canine. Its interest, beyond being harmless in humans? Its ability to multiply in cells, and its response from the immune system of its host:

Like viruses used in immunotherapy, N. caninum can destroy the cells it infects. It induces a strong cellular immune response, sought to fight cancer. These two characteristics therefore make it a relevant candidate for antitumor immunotherapy.

First tests on mice

Its ability to destroy the cells it takes possession of is of great interest to researchers. A trial was conducted in mice with thymus cancer at the benign stage because it was necessary to test the effectiveness of the parasite first on a treatable cancer.

Results ? N. caninem managed to destroy diseased cells without its presence in healthy cells being accompanied by damage. And the scientists observed the beneficial effects of the parasite on the tumor environment.

Need for further studies

However, researchers need to work on more resistant cancers. more resistant:

N. caninum was no longer detectable at the end of the experiments. Although humans are not susceptible to infection by N. caninum, its elimination by the immune system must be confirmed before considering a therapeutic use.

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