Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Combining Forces

Platelets carrying a drug cargo can be delivered to target cancer cells by stem cells

01 August 2019

Combining Forces

Like Batman and Robin or Holmes and Watson, combining complementary skills can make the ultimate team. A new approach to treating leukaemia puts this principle into action by harnessing the powers of two different types of cell. Leukaemia, cancer of white blood cells, is hard to treat. It often returns in people even after treatment, because rogue cells can hide in the bone marrow, evading detection. Researchers might have found a way to clear out even these crafty cancer cells, by joining blood platelets (green) onto stem cells (purple). The platelets can carry the cancer-fighting drugs, and the stem cells are expert navigators, able to home into the bone marrow and hunt out cancer cells. In experiments in mice, this combination treatment halted disease progression, and reduced disease recurrence, raising hope that it may one day help improve treatments for cancer patients.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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