Researchers are turning white blood cells into cancer killers in a bid to prolong the lives of patients with advanced colon cancer, says a report.
A vaccine treatment undergoing clinical trials activates the patient's immune system to fight the cancer.
The trial, involving 20 patients, showed a significant 35 percent control of the disease, a marked improvement over the 11.2 percent response rate for current treatments, principal investigator Toh Han Chong said in remarks published in The Straits Times Friday.
The researchers drew blood samples from patients whose average age was 70.
"From the blood, the white cells are separated and processed to create dendritic cells," Toh was quoted as saying. Being immune cells, they can stimulate an immune response.
Tumour lysate, a solution containing a breakdown of the cancer cells and proteins, is then introduced to the dendritic cells to create "a killer cocktail that stimulates the immune system and causes the cancer to shrink," Toh said.
The vaccine is injected under the patient's skin.
Forty percent of the trial subjects survived more than one year after the treatment started.
"These are patients with end-stage cancer who had been given six to nine months to live," Toh said.