Think Gene Think Gene RSS

a bio blog about genetics, genomics, and biotechnology

DNA Helix

“Vaccine” for leukemia

Biology News reports that a research team at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have gotten a leukemia patient’s immune system to start attacking their leukemia cancer cells. To do this, the researchers modified cancer cells to make them more recognizable by the immune system. These immunity-recognizable cancer cells were then injected back into the patient so that their body could begin producing antibodies.

Basically: a vaccine for leukemia.

This works because the antibodies that are produced target a transmembrane receptor called ROR1, which is involved in the Wnt pathway. Normally our bodies destroy all immune cells that make antibodies that recognize self, which is anything that is naturally present in the body. However, this particular part of the Wnt pathway is only present early on in development, so all the ROR1 receptors are gone before the immune system develops.

1 Comment

  1. Justin L said,
    April 24, 2012 @ 10:21 am

    Hi Josh. This is a very interesting article. Do you know how the research team made the discovery that the patient’s immune system could destroy the chronic lymphocytic leukemia? Was it just good luck? I find it cool how in this situation, the immune system could create antibodies that could kill cells of its own body. Usually, this causes autoimmune diseases, but in this case would actually be beneficial. The ROR1 antigen is present in early embryological development, but is only present during later periods on leukemia cells. I wonder if immune responses could target other types of cancer as well.