The fight against cancer continues, and recent discoveries get us closer to find a final cure for this challenging disease. Among these, we can name two current studies that shed light on approaching cancer and its reaction to specific protein synthesis.

The first study includes The Cardiff University, located in Wales, which discovered a method to eliminate cancer cells using our immune system. This work in progress recognizes and eliminates most cancer types through a class I-related protein (MR1) while leaving other healthy cells intact.

T cell

The use of T-cells to combat cancer has a long story. One of these uses is the medicine called CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor).

In other words, scientists claimed that a T-cell, a white blood cell that protects our body from external agents (antigens), can also be used to eliminate cancer cells by attacking tumors, which means there is a possibility that a T-cell might eliminate a wide range of cancers, something believed to be unfeasible.

The still ongoing study has shown that this T-cell interacting with the MR1 molecule, which is located all over the human body, and cancers are not the exception, could spot the affected cell and destroy it.

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A Hopeful History Combating Cancer

 

The use of T-cells to combat cancer has a long story. For example, a medicine called CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor), which uses the patient’s T-cells, is designed to send an immune response against cells that show a particular antigen. Nevertheless, this treatment is reserved as a single dose, and it could also carry secondary symptoms which is why it requires an extensive follow-up.

Regardless of its risks, CAR-T has shown positive results being able to produce a complete remission. However, this treatment can only be used for blood cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia and advanced lymphomas.

In the investigation conducted by Cardiff University, T-cells can also eliminate solid tumors, which will reveal a general treatment to eliminate all types of cancer.

The discovery is, without a doubt, revealing because through this ‘key’ the lymphocyte flags the malignant unit and proceeds to combat it.

There is still work to do to find a solution to solid tumors (sarcomas and carcinomas), such as the ones that occur in bones, muscles, and organs.

In the investigation conducted by Cardiff University, T-cells can also eliminate solid tumors, which will reveal a general treatment to eliminate all types of cancer.

Another type of therapy used to combat cancer is TIL (Tumor-infiltrating Lymphocytes). These T-cells are located inside the tumor. Once these have been collected, an examination is performed to find which cells recognize the tumor faster. These units are then enriched to increase their number, rapidly destroying the tumor and blocking its signals to the immune system

 Furthermore, this is also important to highlight that T-cell therapy has side effects. The occurrence and number of side effects are still unclear. A negative result can include an excessive release of cytokine, which triggers fever, nausea, headaches, and blood pressure changes. In more complex cases, a TIL therapy can cause leak syndrome, which may lead to multiple organ failure and shock. 

How Does it Work?

 

As described above, in the discovery, the T-cell interacts with a molecule called MR-1 located in every single cell of the human body, including cancer cells. The discovery is, without a doubt, revealing because through this ‘key’ the lymphocyte flags the malignant unit and proceeds to combat it.

The projected therapy for this new treatment begins with collecting the T-cells. Then these cells are genetically modified by using an RNA chain inserted with a harmless virus. At this point, the cell is ready to recognize cancer cells.

The T-cell locates the cancer cell and attacks it.

The projected therapy for this new treatment begins with collecting the T-cells. Then these cells are genetically modified by using an RNA chain inserted with a harmless virus. At this point, the cell is ready to recognize cancer cells.

Next, the modified cells are duplicated in a laboratory. The modified cells are injected back into the patient. The new treatment with the MR-1 molecule has been used only in animals, and there is still a long road ahead of testing before human trials.  

These results are also fascinating because the T-cell has eliminated the cancer cells leaving the rest of the healthy tissue unaffected.

 

New Alternatives to Combat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

 

The second discovery to fight cancer involves a potential solution among the most common cancers that affect children called acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Recently, a team of researchers made discoveries that could improve this disease treatment and open a way to create new therapies.

 

This proliferation of white blood cells contains a genetic problem that includes the protein MEF2D and four other factors that control gene activity. This activity involves their interaction and why the factors are triggered.

On this subject, it is essential to highlight that acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) generates recurrent chromosomal rearrangements that result in chimeric fusion proteins that eventually drive to tumor formation.

This study involves Aichi Medical University, Nagoya University, and the National Hospital Organization Nagoya Medical Center.

The solution contemplates the dynamics of how proteins work and their behavior. In this case, acute lymphoblastic leukemia involves the abnormal propagation of lymphocytes (white blood cells).

  • Enlarged lymph, liver, or spleen nodes
  • Pain below the rib cage
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of weight
  • Pale skin
  • Other symptoms

 

The investigation focuses on blocking these signals (as if we were talking about a communication process) from the proteins, thereby stopping the white cells from proliferating. The result also means that once the investigations are conclusive, it will be possible to create a therapy that produces the same result.

baby with a book

The challenges to assist a child going through cancer and other life-changing illnesses are numerous. Therefore, children need continuous physical and emotional support from their parents.

A children’s book offers a gateway from the pain and emotional stress pediatric cancer involves. This aid can give the minor enough material to combine fantasy, opportunity, hope and provide a hint for the children to express themselves.

 

Color and movement


Books bring many benefits for children. Among these, we have the development of social skills and personal expression, which children will later use in the teenager, and years later, adult world, where they must face more complex social situations and fast decision making. To reach this objective, artists use vibrant colors, ink, dialogue boxes, and well-defined traces to deliver an exciting and entertaining adventure.

The children, unaware of all these signs, will begin learning codes and cultural references that they will use to solve challenges.

On this point, images and signs help children develop non-verbal skills by associating attitudes and reactions to different activities. In a children’s book, these features are displayed through graphics mounted one after the other in a sequence of events, easy to absorb for the children, giving the appearance of movement and time streaming. 

Learn and Apply


Furthermore, the vibrant colors, so popularly used to decorate children’s spaces, have a clear purpose. Different hues help connect brain pathways producing reactions and uncovering visual preferences in evidence.

The child’s first decision-making usually starts during this learning stage. At that moment, children start connecting what they see in the books with what they will see in real life.

Part of this learning is also proposed by artists who, through their work, show different degrees of space, distance, and alertness; while at the same time generate the illusion of movement that helps children relate signs to circumstances and actions.

 

 Color and Shape stimulate children’s minds.

 

Fueled by imagination and its constant search for knowledge, books help children grasp real day-by-day problems while teaching them how to use vocabulary and social skills.

Vocabulary and social skills


A book offers a new dimension full of stimulus to children’s minds. Fueled by imagination and its constant search for knowledge, books help children grasp real day-by-day problems while teaching them how to use vocabulary and social skills.

There is also the matter of fitting into a group. On this subject, even if many parents do not want to consider it as an essential matter, humans have a natural need to fit in a group, or at least to find a place in society. In this case, if children notice there is an obstacle to be included in a group they aspire to be, they will turn frustrated and blame themselves.

Furthermore, cancer is one of those diseases that will change children perception of themselves and how he interacts with social groups around him.

For sure, parents want to protect their children all the time by keeping them in a safe space, which is vital during the early stages of their upbringing. Still, mom and dad must also provide knowledge, through information and interaction, to prepare their kids to face social challenges independently.

Motivate children through imagination


By reading books, narrative elements such as plot, challenges, and expectations together with colorful images and entertaining characters, children who have cancer can explore different experiences and travel out of their beds fueled by their imagination.

This effect makes emotions such as frustration and the impossibility to play, giving the circumstances, to fade away while developing creativity and strengthening their self-confidence.

 

At the same time, books also introduce children to social skills that could operate as an excellent introductory stage to familiarize the minor with plastic arts such as painting, coloring, sculpting; or even acting and singing.

An important note about this subject is that children, by themselves, will decide how to express their needs for social interaction and to which degree they prefer to do it.

 Some children and Introverts and others extroverts therefore both expresses their emotions in different ways.

Here is where we can find introvert and extrovert personalities and how they prefer to engage within groups.

As mentioned before, a book provides a wholesome environment for new vocabulary, which means more tools for children to express their feelings in more complex ways. In other words, if you combine these skills, you can open a gate for creativity and expression.

 

Books help to develop a personality

Metaphorically, a book could also be a person. If I ask you to name your favorite book, you probably will revive memories you experienced when you first read that piece of literature. You will address a first impression, a voice, a tone, and a feeling after having a pleasant reading.

 

Book characters can be used as tools to effectively communicate with children.

Children also get this feeling, much more if the book can project the children’s needs and feelings, even the not so happy ones. Having a ‘talk’ with a book can unlock hard feelings and expectations that may have been unnoticed by parents.

Therefore, fictional story characters can help children vent their emotions through coincidences and similarities with their story. In this regard, children will not feel threatened or nervous about engaging in social interactions because they control the situation and decide when to stop that interaction.

After the children have read the book, they can discuss their content freely, which opens a way for parents to talk about similarities and how the characters process their fears and condition.

Also, if the parents do not know how to engage with their kids or do not find the right words, a book can help them connect and relate to their loved ones.  A parent can personify one of the book characters and interact with their children. They can also use those ‘disguises’ to correct the kid’s behavior or empower them in their recovery process.

 

Article by: Eduardo Guillen