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UCSD Researchers Help to Stop Childhood Cancer

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Aired 5/14/09

Researchers at UCSD are part of a team that's trained the body's immune system to attack a form of childhood cancer.

— Researchers at UCSD are part of a team that's trained the body's immune system to attack a form of childhood cancer.

The immune system is meant to attack dangerous cells or chemicals in the body. But cancer has learned to fly low and evade human immunity. This is true of neuroblastoma, which is the most common cancer among infants. But UCSD pediatrician Alice Yu helped to develop an antibody that allows the immune system to recognize the cancer. She says the antibody will find a cancer cell, bind to it and attract white blood cells.

"And then start a cascade of immune destruction," says Yu.

This destruction of cancer cells lead to a 20 percent increase in young patients living cancer-free for at least two years. Neuroblastoma is a rare disease. But researchers say this therapy may also be effective for melanoma and bone cancer.

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