UK stem cell therapy for lung cancer gets the go-ahead

It seems like almost every day, there's a new story in the news about the advances being made in stem cell therapy around the world. Today's story comes from the U.K., where the first clinical trial of a pioneering stem cell therapy for lung cancer will take place later this year, according to the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Lung cancer patients have worse health outcomes than those with most other types of cancer. In the U.K., only 5 percent of the 40,000 people who are diagnosed with lung cancer each year survive longer than 10 years past the diagnosis. Stem cell therapies have already proven helpful in fighting leukemia in several trials in both the U.S. and the U.K., and the researchers at University College hospital in London hope to build on these results.

The low success rate of chemotherapy for lung cancer patients caused the researchers to believe that an entirely new method of therapy was necessary.

Lead researcher Sam Janes told the Guardian, "Cancers need something new. Chemotherapy works minimally and for a short while. This is truly experimental."

Fifty-six participants have been chosen for the study, all of whom have metastatic lung cancer. The researchers will draw stem cells from donor bone marrow and activate "Trail," the anti-cancer gene that causes other cells to attack cancer cells and trigger their "suicide". This therapy has already been shown to be effective in mice, but has never been tested in humans before. Each patient will receive a series of three infusions of stem cells for a total of nearly a billion cells over a three-week period.

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