Could neutrophils be the secret to cancer’s Achilles’ heel?

A study published in the June 10, 2021 issue of Cell describes a remarkable new mechanism by which the body’s own immune system can eliminate cancer cells without damaging host cells. The findings have the potential to develop first-in-class medicines that are designed to be selective for cancer cells and non-toxic to normal cells and tissues. If successful, this discovery may improve the practice of precision medicine by ensuring the right drug can be delivered at the right dose at the right time.

Our immune system plays a critical role in our ability to fight off diseases while keeping us healthy. For example, the immune system has the ability to recognize and attack a wide range of infectious pathogens, including bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center were interested in learning whether and how the immune system can mount a similar response against cancer.

Such a discovery could reveal cancer’s weak spot, or Achilles’ heel, and make it possible to develop new, more effective treatments with fewer unwanted side effects.

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