A group of scientists have found out the awakening of sleeping tumor-fighting cells by extra concentration of oxygen in the blood. This discovery would dramatically improve the cancer treatment in the field of oncology. The authors have published the findings of this landmark study in the reputed international journal Science Translational Medicine. This may prove in the coming years the launching pad for many novel treatments for a broad spectrum of cancers that occur in the human body. In this article, we would be highlighting the important findings of this ground-breaking study for the benefit of health-conscious readers.
We normally take in air containing 21% oxygen. At this concentration, the immune-suppressing cells are active and anti-tumor cells are inactive. If we improve the air quality by increasing the concentration of oxygen to 40 to 60%, the situation reverses and cancer-fighting cells in our body get awakened from their slumber. A group of researchers from North-eastern University in Boston has made this startling discovery. Still another 30 years have to go before this approach could dramatically increase the survival rate of cancer patients. Currently, this incurable disease condition kills some 8 million people worldwide every year. Earlier, a member of the study-group by the name Sitkovsky had found that an adenosine receptor expression puts the cytotoxic cells to sleep under the normal oxygen level conditions. The researchers have called this receptor as A2A receptor. Hence, the team reasoned that the exposure to more oxygen forces the cells to stop expressing the A2A receptor, enabling these cells to attack harmful cells. These receptors allow the tumor-attacking immune cells in the body to target only the affected cells, thereby leaving the normal cells intact.
Physiology of Cell Awakening
The research team has also found that supplemental oxygen inhibits the hypoxia situation in the body. During hypoxia situation, a chemical called adenosine accumulates in the so-called tumor micro-environment. This activates immune-suppressing agents in the body. When the oxygen level increases, it inhibits the hypoxia condition and removes adenosine from blood circulation. This changed chemical environment activates tumor-fighting immune cells and deactivates immune-suppressant agents. The immune cells that fight tumor cells in our body are T lymphocytes and natural killer cells. In short, this finding would improve the cancer immunotherapy and shrink killer tumors in a natural way, rather than resorting to non-specific cytotoxic chemicals that attack all types of cells. This is the why the patients become week after a course of chemotherapy.