Scientists May Have Found a Way to Treat All Cancers… By Accident | SciShow News


Thanks to Brilliant for supporting this episode
of SciShow. Go to Brilliant.orgSciShow to learn how you can give the gift of learning
to someone you love! [ intro ] People often wonder why there isn’t a cure
for cancer yet. And the answer is usually because “cancer”
isn’t one thing. It’s this big umbrella term for a ton of
different conditions where cells grow out of control. While there are treatments for some types
of cancer, different cancers are, well, different enough that there’s nothing that works for all
of them — no universal cure. But, uh, it turns out there might be? Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales may have found a way to treat all cancers, or at least a whole lot of them. And they just kind of stumbled onto it. The researchers weren’t searching for cancer
therapies. They were looking for ways to fight bacteria
with immune cells called killer T cells. As the name implies, these cells kill things. Specifically, things that aren’t good for
your body. But unlike other immune cells, they don’t target bacteria or viruses directly. Instead, they go around interrogating the
body’s own cells, trying to sniff out ones that might be hiding
pathogens inside them. And when they find an infected cell, they
kill it. But not all killer T cells are the same. There are different types that use slightly
different proteins, called receptors, to check out cells. Often, these receptors are somewhat specific to the invader they’re hunting for. But the researchers were looking for a kind
of T cell that can detect lots of different bacteria. So, they pulled a bunch of killer T cells
from blood samples and tested their infection-spotting abilities. The test the team was using just so happens
to employ a kind of cancer cell that’s easy to infect with bacteria. And a number of different T cells showed promise when the scientists set them loose on these
infected cancer cells. But one was especially ruthless. Unfortunately, in further experiments, it killed all of the cancer cells, not just the ones with bacteria inside them
— so it wasn’t what they were looking for. But it did pique their curiosity. Now, it’s not that weird for a T cell to
kill cancer cells, because T cells don’t just hunt for infections. They are also in charge of keeping cancers
in check. And over the past several years, scientists have started harnessing the power
of these cells to fight cancer. In CAR-T immunotherapy, for example, T cells are removed from a person’s body, genetically programmed with a receptor which
can spot the person’s cancer, and then injected back in to seek and destroy. But we can’t do this for all cancer patients
yet because we don’t have good receptor targets for every type or even subtype of cancer. You know, that whole “cancers aren’t all
the same” bit. But I digress. Point is, it wasn’t super surprising that the researchers
had found a T cell that killed this particular type of cancer. But, before just discarding or shelving them to continue the hunt for bacteria-killing
T cells, they decided to see what happened with some
other cancer types, too. And they worked. Against all of them. Lung cancer, colon cancer, bone cancer, breast
cancer, blood cancer, skin cancer… these T cells killed every kind of cancer
the researchers tried. Not only that, but they left healthy cells
alone. Which is, like, WHOAH. Needless to say, this sparked a new investigation into how
these T cells were doing this. To figure that out, the researchers deleted proteins from the
cancer cells one by one using CRISPR-Cas 9 gene editing. The idea being that, if deleting a protein made the T cells ineffective, then that protein must be involved in how
the cells are spotting cancer. And that led them to a protein called MR1. Now, what’s interesting about that, is MR1 can be found on all your cells, not just cancerous ones. See, it’s thought to be an informant of
sorts for the immune system. It samples molecules from inside the cell and presents them on the outside, where immune cells can take a look. And that’s exactly what these killer T cells
seem to be doing. They have a special receptor that allows them to interact with MR1 proteins and read those samples. They’re not the only T cells that interact with MR1, but they seem to be the only ones we’ve
found so far that can spot all sorts of cancers by doing
so. The researchers were even able to take this
receptor and stick it into T cells from actual cancer
patients. So basically, the same idea as CAR-T therapy, but using this one protein instead of tailoring
the T cells to each patient’s specific cancer. And not only did those engineered T cells
kill samples of the patients’ tumors, they killed cancers from multiple patients. That’s probably because MR1 proteins don’t really differ much between people, so the same receptor can recognize all of
them. this means that instead of having to design
individual therapies for each cancer, doctors might be able to use this one receptor to make T cells that work for everyone. But we shouldn’t pop open the champagne
quite yet. There are still some big unknowns here. Like, the researchers don’t actually know
how the T cells are recognizing MR1. Seriously, the actual wording in the paper
is that this receptor quote “does not recognize MR1 by known mechanisms”. And they don’t know what MR1 is showing
the T cells to alert them that the cell is cancerous — though, presumably it’s unique to cancers and, if not universal, then at least super
common. Most importantly, though: they have yet to try these T cells in actual
human patients. They did test them in mice given human cancers, and the results were promising. But it’s still possible they won’t work
well in a real, live person. We should know fairly soon. The researchers’ current plan is to proceed
cautiously, and if safety tests go well, they’re hopeful human trials could start
in the next few years. On the upside, even if this doesn’t lead
to a quote “cure for cancer”, studying these T cells could help scientists discover new ways to treat a lot of different
cancers. And the team is already on the hunt for other, similar T cells that can kill multiple cancers. And to think — this discovery would never have happened if the researchers didn’t have the good
sense to investigate further when some cells did something funny. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
News! And thanks to Brilliant for sponsoring today’s
episode. Brilliant offers courses in science, engineering, computer science and math. And they’re all interactive and hands on,
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skills. And it’s just one of dozens of courses you
can take with a Premium subscription. Or, you could give the gift of learning to
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Premium subscription. [ outro ]

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54 thoughts on “Scientists May Have Found a Way to Treat All Cancers… By Accident | SciShow News”

  1. SciShow says:

    Go to to try out Brilliant’s Daily Challenges. The first 200 subscribers get 20% off an annual Premium subscription.

  2. Ultra Gamer • 72 years ago says:

    Its always an accident, god must really looking down on us🤦‍♂️😅

  3. Sean L says:

    I hope the nut job "They've had a cure for cancer for years" people will pipe down. No, they won't.

  4. Gavin Adrian Koch says:

    We found a cure for cancer! 👌🏽
    Now watch it disappear..

  5. nelsonjv1 says:

    I need this so I can stop suffering

  6. bboyhanvzla says:

    Does it work for the cancer I get every time I hear reaggeton and trap music?

  7. Joke says:

    Finally someone gonna cure the internet SMH!!😤

  8. Slyphean anims says:

    Growing up I and my siblings thought the cure for cancer was radiation

  9. alan patterson says:

    There was an inexpensive reliable treatment for cancer, they got rid of it because kemo made more money

  10. HuMan Being 34/7 says:

    Rick Simpson already found it.

  11. SilentVOEZ says:

    Why I'm thinking right now about Cells at Work

    That anime involves how cells (in their human form) inside our body work.

  12. Wayne Salvador says:

    Geez.. I wonder how long it will take to erase the simplistic MR1 solution with compound complex pharmaceutical companies end product.

  13. IYN says:

    What if…
    Those T-cell could be modified to kill everything (including healthy cells)?
    This would be the perfect biological weapon. Especially combined with a virus as a carrier/infiltrator. Thus the incubation period could be lasting for months, but then, the target will die without a doubt.

  14. Biotic Whisper says:

    Scientists: find a cure for cancer Genji mains: motherfuc-

  15. Orangutan Tapioca says:

    I was so excited when I read about this study and now seeing it from a second, more well informed, source makes me ecstatic! We could take a very large step toward curing cancer in our lifetime!

  16. Roachaximus says:

    Yea noo big pharma will never allow this to be available to the public. No profit

  17. redmcclaff says:

    How B17 works

  18. Zamora Pakalolo says:

    And they will make it unaffordable, or test it for years before releasing it to the public; letting millions of people die horrible, painful deaths.

  19. Horsey Sauwce says:

    How much you wanna bet it won't ever come out because the scientist that work on it will "lose their research."

  20. Artbug says:

    The answer is simple: stop eating sugar
    Preventative care is always better

  21. Mark Sommerville says:

    We will never see it.

  22. Broken Circle says:

    Pressing 'delete' on Fortnite is usually a good start.

  23. calv83 says:

    T Cells… this is the beginning of the T Virus. Resident Evil, the beginning.

  24. Rocky Puno says:

    Cancer research teams must be low-key pissed at this

  25. Shadow of Neo says:

    Cue The Resident Evil Theme Song

  26. Indiana Joe says:

    Soon to be made illegal.

  27. Top12 boardstore says:

    How about finding what causes cancer and not eating or doing that like smoking? Go plant based and your opinions just got better.

  28. Sparta Lee says:

    Cancer has a cure. The leaders of the world don't want to give people cause there's to many to treat. Anybody remember a dude got killed for talking about it back in 2009 😳

  29. Non Yabusiness says:

    I thought too many T cells in your blood would cause a heart attack.

  30. Benjamin Aikins says:

    Genetically altering T-cells to seek and destroy.

    Now that is badass.

  31. juan marquez says:

    Imagine that's actually the cure to cancer and they where just like "hmm that's not what we were looking for" and just forgot about it

  32. Vince J says:

    how long before big pharma has the research destroyed?

  33. average joe says:

    Q said that the cures for cancers have existed for a long time and that big pharma were being forced to roll them out to the public. All your answers ar

  34. HerbGrowingLegal21 says:


    That is all

  35. NotJo says:

    These researchers need punched in the face. They shouldn't make these announcements until they actually have a successful human trial, and not just some series of animal tests and unguaranteed hope.

  36. Starfire says:

    FDA: we won’t approve this treatment till 2045

  37. Djomo Khanasante says:


  38. Submersed24 says:

    Not going to lie, this could mean cancer is less that 10 years from being mostly cured

  39. Matt says:

    Pennicilin was a accident, so we'll see…

  40. Bryan Sprecher says:

    This is great and all but we've had a cure for all cancers for over a hundred years and pay close attention to this videos technology because it's probably the last time you're going to f**** hear about it.

  41. Stephen Greico says:

    Those scientists better watch their backs and get bodyguards

  42. Merp says:

    What company is doing this?

  43. WhiteOgre says:

    Sorry I don't believe this, my mother died last year from cancer and she had the T-cell immunotherapy treatment which did absolutely nothing to stop the cancer.

  44. Joe King says:

    A cancer cure? watch out, big pharma will soon put a stop to that

  45. Agustín Alejandro Jurado Jaramillo says:

    My dad died of prostate cancer three years ago. So this hits close to home. Hoping to follow up further into this.

  46. Me gay yu gay We all gay says:

    And now I can finally rise to Mythic rank in Mobile Legends without all those cancers in my team

  47. order9066 says:

    When commenters get excited about an unproven idea or theory. "May" isn't science or fact, its conjecture.

  48. p0opyf x says:

    ᴮᴵᴳ ᵞᴱᴱᵀ

  49. J Sproles says:

    Curing cancer will bankrupt hundreds of millions of people and thousands of organizations. This info will be shut down.

  50. Steve Kemmett says:

    Some of the greatest discoveries were made by accident.

  51. real reinjurings says:


  52. Stephen Jeske says:

    Cannabis oil and MMS

  53. EL GABACHO LOCO says:

    And what about the coronavirus ?

  54. GumbaverianX says:

    T-poses to assert dominance

  55. Almighty Kayl says:

    I hope they don't get assassinated by the pharmacitical mob

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