Natural Killer Cells in the Fight Against Cancer
The Historic Approach to Fighting Cancer
Cancer is an old disease and, for close to 100 years, has met a standard response to its appearance and advance. This response has been to ‘poison it’ (chemotherapy), ‘bombard it’ (radiotherapy) and ‘cut it out’ (surgery). Success has been sporadic at best, impossible to predict, and has left survivors with a ravaged body that has had to contend with a ravenous disease and the invasive methods used to confront it.
The New Approach to Fighting Cancer
Fortunately the march of science is inexorable and a new dawn beckons in treating one of mankind’s deadliest foes. With the emergence of new therapies which are gentler, less invasive and which, crucially, target the diseased part rather than subjecting the whole body to unnecessary interventions, treatment of cancer is evolving to the point where if it is not necessarily enjoyable, it certainly will not be an experience that inspires dread.
Natural Killer Cells
Among the many new therapies that are being used to treat cancer is Natural Killer Cells (NK). Natural Killer Cells are a type of cytotoxic lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and form part of the innate immune system. NK cells are derived from peripheral blood samples, or cord blood samples, to treat cancer. With their ability to home in on the cancer by recognising signals from the cancer cells (which are not emitted by normal cells) Natural Killer Cells are an invaluable weapon against the advance of cancer. NK cells produce effector molecules that have the ability to block the growth of tumours and which are able to stimulate the immune system. A stimulated immune system is in a strong position to fight cancer cells.
The principal advantage of Natural Killer Cells is their ability to specifically target cancer cells and eliminate them while leaving normal cells untouched. NK cells play a pivotal role in the host rejection of tumours and virally-infected cells. NK cells may be used on cancers which have proved resistant to other therapies.
Natural Killer Cells Take On Leukemia
Natural Killer Cells have been successfully deployed in the fight against Leukemia. Leukemia, commonly referred to as cancer of the blood, is a progressive malignant disease in which the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce abnormal or immature leukocytes. Leukocytes, in their natural state, are cells in the blood and body fluids whose principal function is to counteract disease and foreign substances.
The exact cause of Leukemia remains unknown although radiation exposure and exposure to benzene are two acknowledged risk factors. Both chronic and acute leukemia will express themselves through persistent fatigue, fevers and night sweats, pain in the bones and joints and discomfort or swelling in the abdomen. Bleeding and bruising easily and frequent infections are more of the physical discomforts associated with Leukemia. Swollen lymph nodes, weight loss and loss of appetite are also symptoms of Leukemia that a patient must endure as long as they are in the grip of the disease.
Chemotherapy has been the default treatment for Leukemia patients, with radiation therapy and bone marrow transplantation being prescribed for some patients. Recent research may however serve to change this narrative to some extent. Scientists have found that NK cells transplanted from human leukocyte antigen (HLA) – matched donors to the leukemia patient were able to control the growth rate of myeloid leukemia relapses. These Natural Killer Cells also seamlessly processed the grafting, eliminating the usual graft versus host complications. Natural Killer Cell Therapy boosts the cell count which in turn activates a cancer-fighting response in other cells. Since they occur naturally in the body host rejection is relatively rare.
Natural Killer Cells (and other immunotherapies) are most effective when used as part of a holistic programme to treat cancer. While they offer a potent deterrent against tumour activity, their use should be incorporated into a wider system that will treat the cancer while maintaining the integrity of the body. Used as part of Primary Immune Treatments, whose purpose is to boost the immune system, the full benefits accruing from the use of NK cells may be better harnessed. Other therapies in the primary immune treatments that NK cells would be used as part of include (a protein-based catalyst that instructs a section of white blood cells known as macrophages to attack cancer cells), Dendritic Cell which is used in culturing, multiplying and training the immune system and Peptide Therapy. Peptide Therapy is used to stimulate the production of T-lymphocytes which are crucial in fighting cancer cells. NK cells also deliver better results when used in conjunction with Whole Body Hyperthermia. Whole Body Hyperthermia refers to the process of inducing an artificial fever in the body that fully activates the immune system making it more receptive to treatment.
While NK cells form an integral part of primary immune systems, these systems themselves also be used as part of a wider holistic approach to the disease to more closely attain the ideal of healing the body. This holistic approach, apart from the already-mentioned primary immune treatments, comprises primary cancer treatments, supportive treatments and detox treatments. Primary cancer treatments are primarily concerned with killing cancer cells and have at their disposal Viral Immune Therapy, Metabolic Treatment, Metronomic Therapy, Local Hyperthermia and IPT, among others. Meanwhile supportive treatments focus on rebuilding health which they achieve through the careful crafting of personalised anti-cancer diets, organ support, wellness and education and exercise with oxygen therapy.
Closing The Circle
Primary Immune Treatments (of which NK cells are a major component) also work best when used with detox treatments as well as the other two major treatment groupings mentioned. Detox treatments, have the immediate role of flushing poisons from the body and this is achieved through the use of Colonic Therapy. Sometimes referred to as colon cleansing, this is a process of removing toxins from the colon and intestinal tract. With their goal of supporting bodily well-being detox treatments make use of other therapies to achieve this goal. These may include Lymphatic Therapy, Chelation Therapy, Deep-tissue massage, and Ozone Therapy.