In May, 2000, scientists will present data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, that will show that histamine helps prolong the lives of people suffering from malignant melanoma, one of the most deadly types of skin cancers.

Most treatments for cancers kill all cells, not just cancers, so scientists have been looking for a magic bullet that kills only cancer cells. Interleukin-2 and interferon alpha are two chemicals that cause natural killer and T cells to seek out and kill cancer cells, but they also stimulate T suppresser cells that shut down immunity.

Scientists have been looking for a way to stimulate natural killer cells without also stimulating T suppressor cells. In 1980, Dr. Kristoffer Hellstrand at the University of Goteberg in Sweden showed that histamine prevents T suppresser cells from shutting down immunity, allowing natural killer cells to do their job of killing cancer cells. This recent research raises concern that antihistamines used to treat allergies may allow cancer cells to spread. It will take much more research to see if histamine really prevents and treats cancers and if antihistamines help to bring on certain types of cancers.

Kurt Gehlson, Ph.D. Maxim Pharmaceuticals San Diego, Cal.

Checked 8/9/05

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