CELLAAX, a homegrown healthcare centre is embarking on Natural Killer (NK) cell therapy, which is set to revolutionise cancer treatment. NK cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that opens a new era in cancer treatment.
The therapy strengthens a person’s own immune system to fight cancer and only targets the tumour, unlike conventional treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy which also kills healthy cells.
NK cell therapy is edging into the spotlight now to overcome the major setback of chemotherapy where the patient becomes immunocompromised.
Since immunotherapy has not garnered much attention as the conventional treatment among Malaysians for cancer treatment, CELLAAX ventured into Natural Killer(NK) cells therapy to provide a wider spectrum of treatment.
“NK cell therapy is a rising star in the field of immunotherapy,” said Angelina Tiah, chief scientist of CELLAAX.
NK cells consist of a troop of vigilant soldiers that is naturally produced in every human’s body to fight cancer cells. However, when the number of cancer cells surpasses the number of NK cells, a tumour will be formed.
To keep the troop of soldiers always vigilant against cancer cells, NK cell therapy weaponises the body with cultured NK cells to boost the immune response.
“NK cells therapy is a promising cancer treatment because it is a targeted therapy and ensures the patient has a good quality of life,” said Tiah.
Generally, when a person undergoes chemotherapy it damages their bone marrow and their immune system gets suppressed. It is an underlying factor for many cancer patients to refuse treatment since it affects their quality of life and physical stamina.
“The treatment that CELLAAX is offering can be also called Pure NK Treatment and the term “pure” refers to nearly 100% of the cultured cells are NK cells after eliminating other immune cells. NK cells are engineered by culturing the NK cells from the patient’s blood sample and it is infused again into the body to fight cancer cells. The procedure starts off with culturing the blood sample which ideally will take around 14 days,” said Tiah.
“Owing to the fact that we would only wish to send our strong soldiers to the war, the blood sample will be quarantined during the first five days for the weak cells to die,” she said.
Further elaborating on the procedure she said: “The strongest NK cells will be identified using an isolation kit that has magnetic technology and the undesirable component will be removed. In between the cell manufacturing process, interleukin is introduced to the strong NK cells as a booster. Interleukin is a type of protein made by white blood cells and it can also be made in the laboratory to regulate immune response for cancer treatments.”
Approximately a minimum of 100 million to 2 billion NK cells are targeted to be produced after the culturing procedure. The number of NK cells generated is also quantified according to the patient’s condition and stage of cancer.
“Unfortunately, most patients are not aware of alternative options available for cancer treatment. Thus, by the time they reach out to us, they have gone through chemotherapy or are already in stage four where most of their strong NK cells are already killed during chemotherapy. The awareness is still low because Malaysians are still lacking health literacy,” she added.
“We suggest patients consider NK cell therapy once they are diagnosed with cancer so the strong NK cells can be extracted. It is also possible to do NK cell therapy and chemotherapy parallelly,” she said.
Tiah recalled having a patient in stage four cancer and the oncologist gave her a life span of seven days.
“She came to us with the hope of increasing her life span and we managed to increase her life span to one month. After that, she passed away due to some infection in the hospital and not cancer.”
CELLAAX also acknowledges the fact that cancer prevention is a multidisciplinary effort. Thus, it encourages people to undertake the Circulating Tumour Cell (CTC) test which opens the possibility of wiping out cancer even before the tumour is formed.
“Cancer remains a global threat even after notable breakthroughs that have been made for other diseases in the medical field because the conventional diagnostic method can only detect cancer when the tumour has already formed.”
“CTC tests overcome the limitation of preventing cancer because it identifies the circulating tumour cells in the body and predicts the possibility of tumour formation. A person with high cancer tumour cells has a higher possibility of being diagnosed early with cancer,” she said.
“It is recommended for a person with high cancer markers to undergo NK cell therapy so the body will have sufficient NK cells to kill the cancerous cells and prevent tumours from forming. This test can be done annually, particularly for those with a family history of cancer or someone who works in a high-radiation environment. It is worth noting that apart from treating cancer patient NK cell therapy also builds anti-cancer immunity for high-risk individuals,” she said.
“The next NK cell therapy that is in the pipeline for CELLAAX is IMMUNAAX. It is a more targeted treatment to treat the deadliest cancers such as leukaemia and brain cancer. Any cancer that targets the brain, has the capability to trick the brain cells, telling the brain “I’m not your enemy don’t kill me.” Thus, we need more targeted NK cells called memory-like NK cells which have the memory to remember the cancer cell,” she added.
Article originally published in: https://thepetridish.my/2023/04/19/cellaax-seeks-to-revolutionise-cancer-treatment/