New research at UCLA
's Jonsson Comprehensive Center seeks to turn the human body into a genetically engineered cancer-killing machine. The fact that the human body doesn't see cancer
as a threat to be destroyed naturally is part of what makes treating it so difficult, so this research uses a harmless, HIV-like virus as the vehicle to direct T-cells (which fight disease) to lymphocytes, and simultaneously carry a reporter gene, which show up in positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, as you can see in the photographs above. So far the researchers have injected the cells into the bloodstreams of melanoma-infected mice, and they began to see evidence of their work within two or three days, and by ten days, it was obvious that in most cases, the cells were indeed fighting the cancer. The process, they admit, could take longer in human beings, and would require about one billion tumor seeking lymphocytes per person treated. They are currently working on creating a vehicle to safely direct the lymphocytes in the human body, and expect the human trial leg of the study to begin within one year.