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Keep your cancer

Purposeful isolation and mutation of your cells into cancer cell types
  (+6, -1)
(+6, -1)
  [vote for,

Extract cells from different regions of your body, when your young and healthy. Grow them in culture and try and induce the most common mutations for those specific cell types that are markers for that cell-specific cancer. Once cancer is achieved, freeze the cell line. If that cell-type cancer ever develops later in life, extract and grow up some of your immune cells to target cells of that specific cell cancer type in your frozen-line.

Or like Wesley from the Princess Bride slowly inject replication-disabled versions of those cells over the course of your life to build up an immunity.

leinypoo13, Nov 26 2013

Northwest Biotherap ue tics http://www.nwbio.com/index.php
Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc. home page [popbottle, Nov 30 2013]

TED talk Eva Vertes http://www.ted.com/...re_of_medicine.html
Cancer as cure [2 fries shy of a happy meal, Dec 01 2013]


8th of 7, Nov 26 2013

       I question whether it is possible to get the proper antigen markers in different mutations of the same cell, even into the same cancer type.   

       I also question whether it is possible to prepare and store a sufficiently large selection of mutations.   

       Finally, I question the advantage of doing the first portion over doing the same thing with concurrently extracted cells (even most "inoperable" tumors can be biopsied).   

       I'll admit that that last argument doesn't apply to a true vaccination approach, but the first two definitely do, especially the second with regards to the number of vaccinations required.
MechE, Nov 26 2013

       //extract and grow up some of your immune cells to target cells of that specific cell cancer type in your frozen-line//   

       If this would work then why can't you just do the same thing with cells taken from a biopsy?   

       (Edit: I think [MechE] is saying the same thing too.)
Wrongfellow, Nov 26 2013

       Presumably the author is suggesting that cells harvested at an early age may have attributes not present in the cells harvested yesterday by your oncologist.
Alterother, Nov 26 2013

       This is not such a stupid idea.   

       But, in line with what [MechE] said, I'm not sure it would work. Cancers are incredibly diverse - between cancer types, between patients, and even between subpopulations of cells within a patient. Those subpopulations are constantly shifting in response to selective pressure, which will be different in vivo and ex vivo. So, your in vitro renal carcinoma might differ substantially from the cancer you eventually develop.   

       But [+] because it's still not a bad idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 27 2013

       Right, since cancer is ever changing, the idea here is to catch them at the moments of oncogenesis (which who knows how long since the switch from a biopsy, or how many concurrent mutations have occurred) and freeze them with many inititial states of different oncogenic antigen presenting profiles that are mutation-specific. This is so that it is more correlated with the original cell type and provides more targets. It will be easier to culture known cell types then ones that have been cancerous for some time, with an unknown number of mutations.   

       Thus, the training immune reactions are not on a specific antigen state from a biopsy, which likely will have changed, but have many lateral target antigens from an array of possibilities linked to the original cells.   

       Also, it is worth mentioning that de-nucleating these cells -> injecting them may be a good way to raise a safe immune response against these antigens without causing cancer.
leinypoo13, Nov 27 2013

       I say bun if it would work, bone if it wouldn't.
doctorremulac3, Nov 27 2013

       // cells harvested at an early age may have attributes not present in the cells harvested yesterday by your oncologist. //   

       Or vice-versa. It didn't occur to me until now that cancer is kind of a backwards disease. From an abstract problem- solving point of view, this idea makes perfect sense: go back to before there was a problem and start building your solution from there.
Alterother, Nov 29 2013

       [leiny], I think you're assuming that some initial stage of oncogenesis (in the cultured cells) has unique properties which will be recapitulated in subsequent cancers.   

       That's not the case.   

       Cells induced into a cancerous state in vitro will have any of many different possible phenotypes. Likewise, cancerous cells in the body (even for a given cell type) will have any of many different possible phenotypes.   

       Moreover, it's probable that the differing conditions between tissue culture and in situ growth will mean that the properties are even less likely to be similar.   

       If I understand correctly, the aim is to use transformed cultured cells as a sort of vaccine to stimulate an immune response against a cancer. But, if this is the aim, biopsied cells from the cancer itself will be the likeliest to raise a relevant immune response and, I believe, this approach has been tried already.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 29 2013

       //That's not the case.   

       [MB] So you're saying that would be no correlation in antigen profile after specific induction of frameshift mutation in a tumor suppressor although 1) same gene, with the 2) same cell types, in the 3) same culture environment 4) same person 5) same time frozen after mutation (just after oncogenesis)?   

       Not sure if this experiment has been done and I think your assumption of variability is a little hand-wavy. Its a reasonable hypothesis to expect some correlations and s.s. differences, between cell types and/or mutations-induced.
leinypoo13, Nov 29 2013

       In a nutshell the problem with cancers is that the immune system does not detect or respond to them (enough) whereas for many disease conditions the immune system actually over reacts allowing us to use vaccines. On an essential level, no matter how high the exposure to the cancer becomes the immune system will never arrive at a healthy "kill those cells, but not the others" type of response. Since you seem to be proposing that somehow we can create a more powerful immune trigger than the actual full blown metastasizing cancer can, I would love to understand better what mechanism you think will be operating. In cases where viral infections are a co-factor in cancer then our best response is to prevent the virus from taking hold because in these cases we have diseased cells we can muster an immune response to.
WcW, Nov 29 2013

       [WcW] That is not entirely true. It is theoretically possible to induce an immune response to a cancer. This has been achieved in vitro and in lab animals. There are several companies that are trying to make the transition to humans.   

       You are absolutely right that the trick is to induce a sufficiently strong immune response, and several different methods are being used for this. Those that I'm aware of are training immune cells to attack cells with specific over expressed proteins, or extracting and and purifying the cells, and then exposing them to the cancer during the stage where they would normally become sensitive to a particular target. (ImmunoCellular, Celldex, and Northwest Biotherapuetics that I am aware of, full disclosure, I have a bit of money invested in that last.)
MechE, Nov 30 2013

       //So you're saying that would be no correlation in antigen profile after specific induction of frameshift mutation in a tumor suppressor although 1) same gene, with the 2) same cell types, in the 3) same culture environment 4) same person 5) same time frozen after mutation (just after oncogenesis)?//   

       Yes, pretty much. Actually, the point I'm making is a bit more complex than that. For a cell to become cancerous, it has to acquire a whole host of mutations.   

       For any given cell type in any given tissue, there are many possible combinations genes that can be mutated to throw the switch.   

       And for each of those genes, there are usually a number of specific mutations that can happen.   

       Thus, a priori, two cancers (of a given cell type) are likely to differ very significantly in their molecular phenotypes.   

       But then you have to add in another factor. The environment of cells in the body is radically different from their environment in tissue culture. Therefore, the set of mutations they need in order to survive and proliferate is also very different.   

       On balance, therefore, cells immortalized in vitro will be very different from the cells in a cancer.   

       As I mentioned earlier, the best chance for this type of therapy is to take a biopsy of the actual cancer, and manipulate in such a way as to make it antigenic, and use it as a sort of vaccine.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 30 2013

       Fascinating. What do you think about inducing a tumor to 'think' it is in skeletal muscle tissue so that the uncontrolled cell division heals damage and then becomes benign?   

       Since watching Eva Vertes TED talk on the subject, I've been waiting for some follow-up research.
Any chance you've heard something I haven't been able to find?

       //. What do you think about inducing a tumor to 'think' it is in skeletal muscle tissue so that the uncontrolled cell division heals damage and then becomes benign?//   

       I don't know - has someone been trying that? It's likely to be difficult, because a cancerous cell is already screwed up, and probably exhibiting a bunch of incomplete patterns of differentiation (ie, it may have weird features normally associated with several other cell types).   

       You might be able to get a cancer cell to behave like a pluripotent stem cell, and then use it for interesting things. But a priori (and reticulo equator) it seems a less promising approach than using stem cells from the start.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 01 2013

       // I don't know - has someone been trying that? //   

       Yes. Well this girl Eva,(only nineteen at the time), wondered why skeletal muscle tissue doesn't get cancer. She discovered that every cut or torn muscle does indeed get cancerous cell division which heals the wound and then turns off. She figures that, as a species, we have not needed a way to tell cancer to turn off within our organs or other parts because it is not necessary in order to make it to the age of grandparents.
Evolutionarily speaking we don't need to live any longer than it takes to ensure the next generations' survival.
But if we could trick cancer into thinking it was in skeletal muscle tissue then cancer may be made to be a cure.

       How's that for out-of-the-box thinking eh?   

       My understanding is that skeletal muscle does not heal in the way skin or bone heals. It just scars. The muscle cells do not divide and multiply. Bigger biceps means bigger cells, not more of them. Not ever dividing is a great way to keep from becoming cancer.   

       Little kids who are growing new skeletal muscle cells can get tumors of muscle - rhabdomyosarcoma. These are rare in adults.   

       Other tumors, of course, have no trouble at all with skeletal muscle as a home to live and grow in.   

       Re the idea - I heard that if you are in a lab in the business of transforming cells to make them immortal in petri dishes, you should not use your own cells as starting material - although they are very handy and come cheap, there could be a risk of getting the immortalized cells back into your body as a sort of zombie homecoming.   

       And to speculate at a 45 degree angle to this idea, I think something of this sort might be responsible for the Caulerpa strain of seaweed which is taking over the mediterranean. One would think a hothouse flower would have trouble in the real jungle but maybe not - maybe life in vitro allowed this plant (and so maybe the cells in a dish) to jettison useless old baggage and rulebooks on playing nice.   

       In this scenario, it is our bodies that are the Mediterranean. And it is not the cancer cells that we want forgetting the rules and turning strong and strange - it is our immune cells. This premise underlies some of the new successful antimelanoma theories - that we will have a more interesting and action packed homecoming dance if we send all the chaperones home.
bungston, Dec 01 2013

       The tissues that arise might be deranged and detectable in numerous ways, but the metastasized stem cells from the line simply have a very bad idea, which is impossible to determine from the outside of the cell. Your immune system is pretty good at picking out tissues that show signs of being in the wrong place which is why immune suppressed individuals suffer more and novel types of cancers. So it's a yes/no type of situation. If the immune system is excessively sensitive to native cells you have auto-immunity issues, and if it isn't sufficiently sensitive to native cell aberrations more cancerous tissues will totally escape it. I would question if the immune system can ever pick out the stem cell line though, since these cells are essentially indistinguishable from their healthy counterparts. Also, not all cancers have apoptosis dysfunctions, they are not all "immortal" cells.
WcW, Dec 02 2013


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