THE DISCOVERY OF BLYS AND A CURE FOR ONE TYPE OF CANCER

Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, Maryland announced that it has discovered a protein that could lead to control of rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus, treat certain diseases of damaged immunity, and kill certain types of cancer cells. Of the three, curing the cancerous B cell lymphomas looks to be the most promising.

Doctors have lots of treatments that can cure cancer. The problem is that they also kill the person who has the cancer. A cure for cancer comes from a magic bullet that will destroy cancer cells without destroying healthy cells.

This recent breakthrough involves the protein that helps the body make proteins called antibodies that kill germs. When a germ enters your body, your white blood cells called monocytes make BLYS, which causes another white blood cell called B lymphocytes to make antibodies that attach to and kill the germ. B cell lymphomas mean that the B cells never die and clog up the whole body. Since we know that BLYS goes right to B lymphocytes, we could make a radioactive BLYS, that is poisonous to cells. Then doctors inject radioactive BLYS into the person, it attaches itself on the cancerous B lymphocytes and kills them. Since it attaches only on B lymphocytes and not on other cells, we would have a magic bullet that can cure B cell lymphomas.

This system has already proved highly effective to treat thyroid cancer. Almost all the iodine in the body goes to the thyroid gland. Doctors create radioactive iodine and feed it to a person. All the radioactive iodine goes to the thyroid and kills the thyroid gland. Since it doesn't go anywhere else, it kills only the thyroid cancer.

Reported 11/26/00; checked 8/9/05

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