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28 June 2014

Research on Cancer Treatment with No Hair Loss

jeffleytonRadiobiology professor at the Université de Sherbrooke and researcher at the Centre de recherche du CHUS, Jeffrey Leyton may have found a way to treat cancer without patients having to experience the symptoms associated with chemotherapy–which affect the hair, stomach, and other parts of the body.

“We are working to target radiation to the specific tumour to produce better outcomes and less toxicity on healthy surrounding tissue,” said Dr. Leyton.

“The antibodies we are engineering can do just that—provide a greater dose of radiation to the tumour, and much less to normal tissue,” added Laurent Fafard-Couture, an undergraduate student in molecular and cellular biology who is part of Dr. Leyton’s team.

Cancer cells don’t necessarily look alike from one cancer to another, which is why cancer is such a difficult disease to treat. Jeffrey Leyton’s current research is focusing on two types of cancer: leukemia and bladder cancer.

“Cancer cells in the bladder and in the blood-producing cells of the bone marrow upregulate cell-surface expression of a specific molecule, and it’s this molecule that is targeted by the antibodies,” explained Mr. Fafard-Couture.

Thus, the antibodies affect only the tumour and not the surrounding healthy tissue. They are designed to be transported to the core where they deliver their dose of radiation and destroy the entire cancer cell, including its DNA.

Dr. Leyton’s work would enable cancer to be treated much more precisely than it is with chemotherapy, and would provide patients with better quality of life.

This work is still in its embryonic stage, in the proof-of-concept phase using cultured cells. Once the research team has shown that the antibodies are genuinely specific to cancer cells, animal testing can be planned. However, it will be several years before marketing of the procedure is launched.

Source: La Tribune
Photo credit: Université de Sherbrooke

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