“New blood” can revitalize a company or a sports team. Recent research by Tel Aviv University finds that young blood does a body good as well, especially when it comes to fighting cancer.
The TAU researchers, led by Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu from the Department of Psychology’s Neuroimmunology Research Unit, discovered that a transfusion of “young” blood — blood which has been stored for less than 9 days — increased the odds of survival in animals challenged with two types of cancer. This finding, reported in the journal Anesthesiology, may solve an age-old mystery as to why some blood transfusions during cancer-related surgeries may lead to an increased recurrence of cancer and others do not.
“There is anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that some surgeons really prefer to use younger blood units. They insist on it. Our research shows their reasoning might be sound,” says Prof. Ben-Eliyahu, explaining that the oldest blood in a blood bank usually sits on the shelf anywhere from 40 to 42 days before it expires.
Using an animal model, the researchers conducted tests on rats with leukemia and breast cancer. The odds of surviving the cancer, they found, were only compromised if the transfusion blood had been stored for nine or more days.
This result is not surprising. A group at Wake Forest University discovered that some mice have immune systems that are very effective against cancer and that group later discovered that rare people have extreme anti-cancer immune systems and that immune systems decline in their ability to attack cancer cells as we age. Blood that has not been stored as long probably is more capable for immune response.
I think the Wake Forest work demonstrates that not only should doctors use fresh blood with cancer patients but that they should use blood from younger donors and especially from donors which assays show to have especially effective immune responses against cancer.
The future development of immune system rejuvenation therapies will cut the incidence of cancer. Also, those rare people who have especially anti-cancer immune systems probably have genetic sequences for antibodies or perhaps for other parts of the immune system that make them fight cancer especially well. The eventual discovery of what makes their immune systems more effective will lead us toward the development of gene therapies or cell therapies to allow us to rev up our immune systems to protect against cancer.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2008 December 31 12:15 AM Biotech Cancer|