Cancer immunity in mice passed on by blood transfusion

In collaboration with the Press Association

White blood cells extracted from an extraordinary strain of mice that appears to be immune to cancer have proved able to fight off tumours when transplanted to non-resistant mice, claims a new study.

The cells were able to both kill existing cancers and protect the mice from what would usually have been lethal transplanted cancers.

"Even highly aggressive forms of malignancy with extremely large tumours were eradicated," said researcher Dr Zheng Cui.

"This is the very first time that this exceptionally aggressive type of cancer was treated successfully," he added. "Never before has this been done with any other therapy."

The cancer-resistant strain of mice was discovered in 1999, and has so far produced 2,000 descendants across 14 generations.

Around 40 per cent of each new generation has inherited the immunity.

"Now we know that we can take white blood cells from this strange mouse and put them into a normal mouse and these cells will still kill cancers," said co-researcher professor Mark Willingham.

"Their activation requires no prior exposure, but rather depends on a pre-determined mechanism to recognise specific patterns on the cancer cell surface."

The transplanted cells were also shown to be effective against "endogenous" cancers ? tumours that have naturally developed in the body's own cells.

They also acted in other surprising ways, being able to find and destroy cancer cells in other parts of the body and providing long term protection over the course of a lifetime.

The next step will be to try and unravel the molecular mechanism behind the phenomenon .

The study was carried out by the US Wake Forest University School of Medicine and is published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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