Israeli researchers test allergy-causing white blood cells to fight cancer

The eosinophil, thought to lead to asthma, could be the key to kill tumor cells.

MobileODT's EVA system for cervical cancer screening (photo credit: Courtesy)
MobileODT's EVA system for cervical cancer screening
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv University researchers are studying white blood cells to find a way to fight colon cancer. A new article published in the Cancer Immunology Research journal describes a study on eosinophils - a type of white blood cell that may at one time have killed parasites in the human body. Now that most humans exercise proper hygiene, eosinophils are thought to play a role in causing allergies and asthma.
Prof. Ariel Munitz of the TAU's Department of Microbiology and Clinical Immunology stated, "Our new research theorized that since eosinophils are capable of killing parasites and can cause damage in the lungs of asthma patients, they might play a role in cancer treatment and would be able to kill tumor cells." His colleagues at the Gastroenterology Department of observed the tumors of colon cancer patients in order to investigate the amount of eosinophils in the blood. 
"We also found that when eosinophils were activated by a protein called IFN-gamma, they induced an even greater tumor-killing response," Munitz explained.
The study, which was supported by the Israel Cancer Research Foundation, the Israel Cancer Association and the Israel Science Foundation, could "serve as a foundation for drug development in a number of different approaches," he added.
During the tests, the eosinophils acted in ways that could kill tumor cells.