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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tobacco to Treat Cancer?

Tobacco, the very cause of many cancer cases, may be the key to treating certain types.

While more research is needed, scientists used the plant to grow needed components of a new cancer vaccine. The vaccine affects a form of lymphoma. It is not certain the vaccine will work.

Tobacco plants are being used as "factories" for growing an antibody chemical specific to cells which cause B-cell lymphoma. Like other vaccines, the hope is that the antibodies can be injected in those with a predisposition for the affliction, thereby building their immunity. The idea is not new, but previous research has had mixed results.

Only a few plants are needed to make the vaccine and the process is quite rapid. Animal-based attempts could contain unknown virii and are more expensive. Further, as each person's vaccine is created from their own cancer cells and everyone's antibodies are different, each vaccine is individualized and specific to the patient.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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