Parasite Shown to Help Fight Cancer (Video)

August 3, 2016 Updated: August 3, 2016

A person’s immune system is able to fight off many diseases, but it tends to be ineffective against cancer because of a mechanism called immune tolerance, or the inability to identify “which cells to attack.”

As a press release issued by PLOS states, a new study led by Dartmouth has “identified which parasite proteins and which immunological pathways are required to break [this] immune tolerance.” The team decided to focus on a strain of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, or T. Gondii, which has been shown to “cure mice of several types of solid tumors.”

According to PLOS, researchers “systematically deleted genes for secreted effector proteins–molecules that the parasite injects into a host cell to modulate the immune system during infection–and injected the altered parasites into mice with aggressive ovarian cancer.”

They ultimately found that certain proteins emitted by T. Gondii “before and after host cell invasion, respectively, control the development of an effective host antitumor response, and increase the survival of mice with ovarian tumors.”

As a result, this method of “Using infectious organisms to break tumor immune tolerance may be an excellent therapeutic option for treating cancer in the future.”