Bleach component may boost cancer treatment, say scientists

In collaboration with the Press Association

Killing cancer cells with bleach and using their remains to stimulate the body's immune system may help the body fight cancer, scientists have claimed.

The immune system is often confused by cancer cells and unable to identify them as harmful, allowing the cancer to grow and spread.

Previous attempts to help the immune system identify cancer cells, using ?cancer vaccines?, have produced mixed results, and have rarely provided a big enough boost to fight off the disease.

But now researchers at University College London have discovered that immune cells were five times more efficient at recognising cancer cells that had been killed by hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in bleach, than when the cells were killed by other methods.

Lead researcher professor Benny Chain believes this is because the immune system is geared to recognise cells killed in this way. Many immune cells break down harmful substances by producing microscopic quantities of a type of bleach, and then use their remains to boost the rest of the immune system.

"This experiment was done very much on a shoe-string budget. It is very low-tech... but [it] has produced some very exciting results," he told the Scotsman.

Cancer Research UK has described the results as "promising".

"Cancer researchers have been struggling for some time to improve the efficiency of cancer vaccines, so these results could prove useful," said Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK.

"This is a promising approach, and it will be interesting to see if it works in cancer patients. The scientists are clearly not suggesting that household bleach has a role to play in cancer treatment," she added.