Dendritic cells (DC)
Restoring immune function
All healthy individuals continuously produce cancer cells throughout their lives. These cells occur on an ongoing basis and because they develop from within the body, they are referred to as autologous. Malignant cells result from the effects of mutations and viruses and exposure to carcinogens ranging from radiation or, tobacco smoke, to pesticides, and food colorings and preservatives, just to mention a few.It is the primary task of the cellular immune system to detect these cancer cells early and destroy them. When cancer occurs, the immune response is suppressed, or there has been an excessive exposure to a carcinogen. Impaired immune function often involves a drop in the number and/or the function of immune cells available to effectively detect or kill cancer cells.
Dendritic cells are one of the keys to an effective immune response to cancerous cells. The dendritic cells migrate throughout the tissues of the body, checking for abnormal cells. Dendritic cells also target cells with the potential to become malignant, due to chronic infection by a virus (for example a chronic viral infection in the cervix such as human papilloma virus (HPV) which can develop into a malignancy).When an abnormal cell, such as a cancer cell, has been detected the dendritic cell travels to a nearby lymph node and presents the “ID” (the specific antigen profile) of the cancer cell to be destroyed.
Dendritic cells vaccination
Researchers have shown that fresh and vital dendritic cells can be introduced into the body in the form of a vaccine. If cancer is present, inoculation with new dendritic cells alerts the immune system to the presence of cancer and restarts proper immune function. This serves to mobilize the exceptional power of the immune system to identify cancer and combat it.These dendritic cells are cultured from the patient’s own white blood cells (so they are described as “autologous”). Initially, after a simple blood draw, the blood is sent to a high-tech medical laboratory where specially trained cell biologists and technicians separate out certain white blood cells (monocytes) from the blood. These cells are then cultured and transformed in seven days into a new generation dendritic cells. This new generation of vital, activated dendritic cells is re-introduced into the patient’s body through simple intractaneous injections.
The first step is to induce fever—either by total-body hyperthermia or by localized hyperthermia—provided in conjunction with the dendritic cell vaccine. Normally, fever is initiated and controlled by certain centers in the brain stem, which is also responsible for maintaining core body temperature. Fever is the necessary condition that ramps up the entire immune defense system, which is essential in eliminating diseases.The second step is the dendritic cells vaccination, which provides immune defenses with the means to identify and target the cancer cells to be destroyed. The injections are generally well tolerated, with almost no side effects except for a fever that typically starts the day of the injection and lasts 4 to 24 hours.