July 28, 2008

Hopes Tobacco Could Be a Cure

THE TOBACCO plant - responsible for millions of cancer cases - may actually offer the means to treat one form of the disease, a study says.

US scientists used the plant to "grow" key components of a cancer vaccine.

The National Academy of Sciences study suggests they could be used to tackle a form of lymphoma.

UK specialists said while the work is potentially exciting, more research would be needed to test how well the vaccine actually worked.

The ironic new role for tobacco is the work of researchers from Stanford University in California.

They are using the plants as factories for an antibody chemical specific to the cells that cause follicular B-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

These antibodies are put into a patient newly diagnosed with the disease to prime the body's immune system to attack any cell carrying them.

If successful, this would mean the body would then recognise and destroy the lymphoma cells.

But every patient's antibodies are different, and would need to be produced quickly once the diagnosis was made.

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