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Not the droids your looking for cancer analogy

Our immune system has mechanisms in place for detecting and destroying cancer cells.  A form of a triggered self-destruct instruction set that tells the cell to stop duplicating and disassemble itself into reusable components.

So, if we know the body can fight off disease and infection, why does it allow cancer cells to survive and grow?  

The simplest explanation is that the immune system does not see these rogue cells. The cancerous tumor uses the biological equivalent of a Jedi mind trick to mask themselves from the immune system. “These are not the cancer cells you are looking for”.  The culprit, according to the researchers at National Jewish Health, is a lipid secreted by the cancer tumor called LPA (lsyophosphatidic acid).  LPA binds to receptors in cancer killing T cells and makes the tumor invisible.

What if we could make all cancer cells visible to the body’s immune system?

That is what researchers want to do, and they may have found a solution in hyperthermia. It has been shown that when tumor cells are heated up to “fever temperature” (around 41-43˚ C) using hyperthermia, the tumor cells essentially light up to the body’s anti-tumor immune response.  It is also believed that once a specific type of cancer cell is identified to the immune system,  that information is telegraphed through the body revealing and attacking those cancer cells growing elsewhere.  So treating a cancer in one part of the body may trigger an immune response everywhere.

Read more about “Immune modulation induced by hyperthermia” in the article Local hyperthermia combined with radiotherapy and-/or chemotherapy: Recent advances and promises for the future by N.R. Datta (et al) in the recent issue of Cancer Treatment Reviews http://www.cancertreatmentreviews.com/article/S0305-7372%2815%2900104-8/abstract?cc=y=