Scientists have long been looking for a way to use cytokines to treat cancer - special proteins that are a natural component of the immune system and are very effective at killing cancer cells. However, they are just as dangerous for healthy cells - and in addition, they are quickly carried by the bloodstream throughout the body. To keep cytokines near the tumor, American scientists proposed to design a "sticky" that would attach proteins to target cells.
After a long search, scientists settled on a protein called lumikan, which forms strong bonds with collagen. This substance is also present in healthy cells, but in cancer cells it is much more. Cytokines are placed in a kind of lumikan lock and injected into the tumor, from where, in theory, they will not be able to escape quickly, but will remain and destroy cancer cells.
Experiments in mice using two cytokines, interleukin-2 and interleukin-12 (IL-2 and IL-12), have shown the high potential of the technique. Alas, for the human body, the level of toxicity is still high, so scientists have focused on improving the method. They conducted a series of experiments combining cytokine intervention with traditional therapies.
It turned out that the combination of cytokines and lumikan, as an additional agent in immunotherapy, provides a sharp increase in the survival rate of experimental rodents. Up to 90% in some cases. Now it remains to solve the issue of reducing toxicity, and it will be possible to start developing a means for influencing the human body.