Cancer Cured? Granulocytes Treatment Worked 100 Percent In Mice Work But Will It Work In Humans?
    By News Staff | June 28th 2008 03:07 PM | 17 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are about to embark on a human trial to test whether a new cancer treatment will be as effective at eradicating cancer in humans as it has proven to be in mice.

    The treatment will involve transfusing specific white blood cells, called granulocytes, from select donors, into patients with advanced forms of cancer. A similar treatment using white blood cells from cancer-resistant mice has previously been highly successful, curing 100 percent of lab mice afflicted with advanced malignancies.

    Zheng Cui, Ph.D., lead researcher and associate professor of pathology, will be announcing the study June 28 at the Understanding Aging conference in Los Angeles.

    The study, given the go-ahead by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will involve treating human cancer patients with white blood cells from healthy young people whose immune systems produce cells with high levels of cancer-fighting activity.

    The basis of the study is the scientists' discovery, published five years ago, of a cancer-resistant mouse and their subsequent finding that white blood cells from that mouse and its offspring cured advanced cancers in ordinary laboratory mice. They have since identified similar cancer-killing activity in the white blood cells of some healthy humans.

    "In mice, we've been able to eradicate even highly aggressive forms of malignancy with extremely large tumors," Cui said. "Hopefully, we will see the same results in humans. Our laboratory studies indicate that this cancer-fighting ability is even stronger in healthy humans."

    The team has tested human cancer-fighting cells from healthy donors against human cervical, prostate and breast cancer cells in the laboratory – with surprisingly good results. The scientists say the anti-tumor response primarily involves granulocytes of the innate immune system, a system known for fighting off infections.

    Granulocytes are the most abundant type of white blood cells and can account for as much as 60 percent of total circulating white blood cells in healthy humans. Donors can give granulocytes specifically without losing other components of blood through a process called apheresis that separates granulocytes and returns other blood components back to donors.

    In a small study of human volunteers, the scientists found that cancer-killing activity in the granulocytes was highest in people under age 50. They also found that this activity can be lowered by factors such as winter or emotional stress. They said the key to the success for the new therapy is to transfuse sufficient granulocytes from healthy donors while their cancer-killing activities are at their peak level.

    For the upcoming study, the researchers are currently recruiting 500 local potential donors who are 50 years old or younger and in good health to have their blood tested. Of those, 100 volunteers with high cancer-killing activity will be asked to donate white blood cells for the study. Cell recipients will include 22 cancer patients who have solid tumors that either didn't respond originally, or no longer respond, to conventional therapies. The study will cost $100,000 per patient receiving therapy, and for many patients (those living in 22 states, including North Carolina) the costs may be covered by their insurance company. There is no cost to donate blood. For general information about insurance coverage of clinical trials, go to the American Cancer Society's web site at

    For more information about qualifications for donors and participants, go to (Web site will be available the evening of 6/27.) Cancer-killing ability in these cells is highest during the summer, so researchers are hoping to find volunteers who can afford the therapy quickly.

    "If the study is effective, it would be another arrow in the quiver of treatments aimed at cancer," said Mark Willingham, M.D., a co-researcher and professor of pathology. "It is based on 10 years of work since the cancer-resistant mouse was first discovered."

    Volunteers who are selected as donors – based on the observed potential cancer-fighting activity of their white cells – will complete the apheresis, a two- to three-hour process similar to platelet donation, to collect their granulocytes. The cancer patients will then receive the granulocytes through a transfusion – a safe process that has been used for more than 30 years. Normally, the treatment is used for patients who have antibiotic-resistant infectious diseases. The treatment will be given for three to four consecutive days on an outpatient basis. Up to three donors may be necessary to collect enough blood product for one study participant.

    "The difference between our study and the traditional white cell therapy is that we're selecting the healthy donors based on the cancer-killing ability of their white blood cells," said Cui. The scientists are calling the therapy Leukocyte InFusion Therapy (LIFT).

    The goal of the phase II study is to determine whether patients can tolerate a sufficient amount of transfused granulocytes for the treatment. Participants will be monitored on a regular basis, and after three months scientists will evaluate whether the treatment results in clear clinical benefits for the patients. If this phase of the study is successful, scientists will expand the study to determine if the treatment is best suited to certain types of cancer.

    Yikong Keung, M.D., a medical oncologist, is the chief clinical investigator of the study. Gregory Pomper, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and the director of the Wake Forest Baptist blood bank, will oversee the blood banking portion of the study.


    So, the donors give free blood and the doctor's charge $100,000 per patient to test. I know R&D is expensive, but for something so promising to so many (if it works), it seems like they could cover the initial round of tests or can only the rich afford to be cured??? Just doesn't seem right to me.

    The REDISCOVERY of the Cell Death Signal Theory is wonderful , and maybe the Wake Forest people will be able to get it to sick people soon, but it is only TWENTY years late. This very theory is why I was black listed by the University of Waterloo since 1988 when I discovered academic /felony fraud.See my website for details. It is nice to see one's theories proven, but more importantly this now raises the same question as before, the danger of BAD Biotech and Centers of Excellence. Research of (now)proven value was suppressed for money by billionaires. A famous scientist from theM.D.Anderson Cancer Center was asked to mediate the dispute at UW but when he found for me and the theory UW said you get your lawyers and we'get ours. Basically saying that the University of Waterloo (home to RIM/the Blackberry) didn't care if people died just as long as they could get aaway with scholarship fraud. By the way Dr. J.Elders fmr US Surgeon General has regretted my treatment, Kyoto Award Winner Noam Chomsky has said my theories could be of phenomenal importance to mankind. Among others , and now proven. Well, is the scientific community , out of collegiality and scientific integrity going to help, or hide again (the new work is the Viroid Thermodynamic Theory on th eOrigin of Life and has significance to stem cell research and emerging diseases from global warming). Hope peole will get help soon from the "old" discovery. Thank you. Edward A.Greenhalgh

    Edward Greenhalgh, your email and web site are poorly written and look to be the work of a crack pot. If you want validation of your work, then I suggest you learnt to communicate. This is a fabulous discovery demonstrating the inherent ability of the body to heal it self (and others). Having lost my Father to cancer, I truly wish it had been discovered earlier, but I cannot tell from your ravings what the truth is.

    I wonder how much research, and good information has been lost in this world due to peoples intolerence. Do you think perhaps, because you are so intelligent, you should learn how to communicate with people like Mr. Greenhalgh ? If a simple mind like mine can figure out what he's saying, and read between the lines, where that needs to happen, maybe yours can too. Also, you might want to work on your spelling.

    Why not provide some links to the original sources?

    LIFT trial:

    PNAS paper:

    very informative blog...thank you for precious piece of information....

    Wouldn't you go a little nutty if you found the cure for cancer and was ostracized for it?

    Woah woah, wait a second here. Leading off with the phrase "Cancer cured?" is wrong on many levels, especially for a scientific publication. There have been half a dozen or more cancer treatments that have worked perfectly in mice but not nearly as well in humans. Playing the headline in such a manner is ethically questionable, and certainly misleading. Just don't do it.

    Indeed, mice have been great for in vivo studies and poor models for cures but 'Cancer cured?' is much different than 'Cancer cured!' to the astute science readers we have here.

    If LIFT has clear clinical benefit, though, it may well move from the interrogative to the exclamatory.

    Cant u see the question mark over there, dun try to be smart, when u r not.

    Cant u see the question mark over there, dun try to be smart, when u r not.

    Forgive me if a 100% success rate makes me a bit skeptical.

    Sorry for mistakes.These days Appeared a gray box on the site which begin with the text Attention:
    Timing of the Clinical Trial .I should like of to know whether they are facing bureaucratic problems and no test was initiated.

    Please contact.

    Thank you.Regards Marconi Jackson.

    The clinical trial is still up at the FDA, so at least it is still regarded as a "bona fide" clinical trial (and not a fraud like Hwang Woo Suk, which was my concern).

    My bet is that since they decided to ask patients to fund their own treatment, they were rapped in the fingers by regulatory agencies, as asking patients for money for an unproven treatment (even if you are doing it in good faith, and just to fund it) has a doubtful legal standing, so they are likely still looking for cash to pay for their experiment.

    i am doing a science project on why informed consent is important and was wanedring what the risks or side effects are

    How long does the public have to wait until all the "crack pots" who do NOT believe there is a cure for cancer give up and let the real experts find the cure to cancer? How many times I have read one scientist attack another -why are they doing this? Is the work of science not to help mankind, to help those who are sick in medical need. Why can't we all work together and stop the bickering, egos and garbage I read in the comments? Why is it that these commentors do not have a claim to a cure themselves? Why is it that someone had to be petty enough to knock a title of an article rather that the results of trials? If people acted ethically and maturely -the comments would be valid. Unfortunately they are not. I welcome valid science that cures cancer, and yes there is a cure to those disbelievers. End the nonsense, please.

    new motto: 1st do no harm to BigMed's BottomLine.

    I tried to get my wife in Dr Cui's trial 4 years ago. Cui's research was quashed. My wife died 2 yr later.

    Now granulocyte therapy is available in Mexico and China.