Scientists from the University of Minnesota have discovered a new way to improve cancer treatment using natural killer cells—our body’s built-in fighters against disease.
In a small but promising study, these experts were able to enhance the cells’ abilities to target and destroy cancer cells by treating them with vitamin B3, also known as nicotinamide.
This exciting research could pave the way for better treatment options for people who have blood cancers that are tough to treat.
The Problem with Previous Methods
Before this study, doctors had tried to use natural killer cells to treat different kinds of blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. But these attempts had mixed results.
Some patients didn’t respond to the treatment, especially when their standard treatments had already failed. Researchers needed a better way to make these natural killer cells more effective against cancer.
The Vitamin B3 Twist
What’s special about this new approach? It uses a vitamin most of us know—vitamin B3.
This vitamin is not just good for turning the food we eat into energy; it also seems to make natural killer cells more potent in their fight against cancer.
In simple terms, the scientists took these natural killer cells and treated them with vitamin B3 in a lab.
After this treatment, these cells were not only better at finding cancer cells but were also more durable and effective at destroying them.
The researchers also combined these enhanced natural killer cells with another cancer-fighting drug. The results were encouraging: this combo treatment was safe and showed positive outcomes in a group of 30 patients.
Specifically, in 19 patients with a hard-to-treat type of lymphoma, 11 showed complete recovery, and three showed partial recovery within just 28 days of treatment.
Why Vitamin B3?
Vitamin B3 has a history of health benefits. Back in 1937, scientists found out that a lack of this vitamin caused a severe illness called pellagra, leading to symptoms like dementia, diarrhea, and skin problems.
Simply adding vitamin B3 to the diet could prevent this deadly disease.
In this study, vitamin B3 did more than just boost the natural killer cells’ energy.
It also protected these cells from damage, helping them last longer in the body and giving them a better shot at destroying cancer cells.
The scientists are hopeful that this new method of treating blood cancers could be a game-changer. The next step is to test it on more patients in larger clinical trials.
If these future tests are successful, this vitamin-boosted natural killer cell treatment could become a powerful new weapon in the fight against stubborn blood cancers.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about plant nutrient that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
The research findings can be found in Science Translational Medicine.
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