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首頁 > English version > NK killer cell theapy

Introduction to NK cell immunotherapy

 

Forty-five percent of the blood is composed of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells use hemoglobin as the protein to deliver oxygen to all corners of the body; platelets function as a hemostasis (blood-clogger); and white blood cells in the immune system has the great responsibility of protecting the body. White blood cells are divided into the three groups lymphocytes, macrophages and granulocytes; these three groups must work together in order to dispose of pathogens and unwanted old cells. 

In the immune system, the first thing to be accomplished, which also is the most important task, is to distinguish the cells in the system from those objects that should be excluded (the antigens). Lymphocytes play a very important role. Within our body's lymphocytes, T cells account for 70-80%, and B cells account for 5-10%, but the remaining portion of 15-20% has long been unknown, up until between 1973-1974, when two different research institutions in the United States, from similar phenomena, accidentally identified new immune cells.  Then finally in 1986, at the International Symposium on Natural Immunity held in Hawaii, it was decided to call these cells responsible for natural immunity “Natural Killer Cells” (NK cells).

NK cells are an important line of defense for protecting people against cancer invasion, and although they have a similar function as the lymphocytes in the white blood cells having a similar purpose, they are not the same as the T cell and B cell populations.  In general, macrophages absorb phagocytic cells, but if they do not detect antigens to assist the T cells, then launching the killer T cells to attack cancer cells would be difficult.  Moreover, the assassins, the killer cells, from the time receiving the message to assist the T cells until the end of the attack are acting for several days, and these NK cells do not need any instructions at all.  So for a wide range of cancer tumor cells, they function as spontaneous toxicity for the cells.

Cytotoxic effect on tumor cell biology is an indication of the strongest anti-cancer response.  As soon as the NK cells discover cancer cells, they immediately combine with the cancer cells.  Within five minutes particulate matter in their cell nuclei would destroy these cancer cells.  They can be called the ace assassins in the immune system.  Under a high-powered electron microscope, one can clearly see their exciting live combat, and their resultant success or failure depends on the adequacy of the quantity and activity of these NK cells.

In our body, usually a day will produce thousands of cancer cells for the macrophages, with NK cells in their centers, or the immune system, with white blood cells comprising groups of multi-cored white blood cells, to monitor them 24 hours.  Once the cancer cells are discovered, they are sequentially gotten rid of.  But the most troublesome aspect is when cancer cells gain the ability to construct several layers of immune defense so that tumor cells or cells infected by viruses appear not to be foreign, but to be the body’s own normal cells.  However, these cells and normal cells are completely different.  So when a person’s immune system is weak, the cancer cells in his body will proliferate and spread quickly.  As the cancer progresses, the cancer cells gradually erode surrounding tissues or remotely metastasize and finally form tumors.

Our discussion thus far presents an important question: Since various immune cells are constantly destroying cancer cells, how can cancer cells generate and proliferate?  Currently neither medicine nor biology completely understands the body's immune system.  Even if science is developed further, it will have to take a very long time to unlock the mysteries of the human body, for the body is filled with precise complexities.

Now what we can do is to strengthen prevention measures, improve immunity, and intentionally activate our immune cells, activating individually all of our red blood cells, white blood cells, lymphocytes, NK cells, and macrophages.  As long as we have a strong and effective immune system and a correct regimen for health, such as avoiding harmful foods, and establish good living habits, then the causes of almost all diseases, from the common cold to chronic diseases (such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc.), or to diseases as severe as tumorigenesis, etc., can be corrected.

 

Natural Killer Cells Immune Therapy

Medical treatment with cells refers to the use of cells modified outside the body (ex-vivo) as a product for medical treatment inside the human body.  This is the concept of "cellular medicine."  Cells can be used as immune therapy medical products to enhance or repair damaged organs and tissues and to enable promotion of tissue regeneration.  But they also can, in combination with existing other key areas such as gene therapy, stem cell research and drug control, form new fields such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.  In particular, immune therapy research can be directed to the currently most incurable human diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases (namely lupus erythematosus), and infectious viral diseases (such as hepatitis, AIDS, etc.), thus bringing to the sufferers of these diseases new treatments and hope.

There have been many success cases in the clinical application of immunotherapy to treat cancer in Japan.

Over the past decade, cancer has become the major primary or secondary highest cause of death in the world, with about five million cases each year.  In the Meigu geographic area in 2001 alone, nearly 1.3 million new cases of cancer appeared, amounting in the direct cost of cancer treatment to as high as US$180 billion.  In Taiwan, cancer has constantly been the top among the ten major causes of death.  In 2001, cancer cases totaled 2.36 million, and insurance payments further totaled approximately NT$20 billion, a staggering amount.  Therefore, finding a safe and effective method for treating cancer not only can improve the survival and cure rates of cancer patients, but it also can reduce the pain and suffering of patients and lower the costs to society.

In the past 10 or so years, many patients have used cellular immunotherapy to treat cancer. Cellular immunotherapy is drawing blood from the body of cancer patients, then culturing the immune cells in the blood in a standardized procedure, and finally increasing and activating these immune cells to be therapeutic agents when reapplied into the patients’ body again.  This method of application can avoid allogeneic rejection when the fortified immune cells are reintroduced into the immne system directly and is quite effective in treating cancer .  Currently in Japan there are already many successful cases.  In the future, cellular immunotherapy can also be directed to treat AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

 

Introduction to Auto-NK Cellular Immunotherapy

So far, only three modes of treating cancer are known to man, namely, the traditional treatments of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.  Traditional treatments often produce significant side effects, especially when taking the majority of anticancer drugs and receiving large doses of radiation.  For most patients, these side effects are a considerable burden on their bodies.    Sometimes they have an opposite resultant effect and shorten the survival period of the patient. So this immunotherapy, viz., autologous natural killer cells (Natural Killer Cell “NK”) immunotherapy with the characteristic of having no side effects, will gradually gain the full attention of the whole medical community as a fourth mode of treating cancer.

Auto-lymphocyte immune therapy is to improve the ability of a cancer patient's own immune system as a treatment against cancer.  In other words, it is one of the most natural and most advanced anti-cancer treatments having no side effects. The lymphocytes in our immune system not only just resist the foreign invading bacteria and viruses, they also attack the body's cancer cells.  Most of the general public know that these lymphocytes in the auto-immune system are the cytotoxic T cells and the natural killer cells.  The cytotoxic T cells must first react to antigens and antibodies before they can kill cancer cells.  NK cells, on the other hand, do not need to react to antigens and antibodies and can directly kill cancer cells.   As shown in test tube experiments, the killing ability of NK cells is five times more powerful than that of T cells.  As far as we know so far, NK cells are the most powerful lymphocytes in our bodies to attack cancer cells.   Among the general population, some have been treated for cancer orally, whether with Chinese herbal medicine or with health foods and the like, but these are all ingested after the fact.  These substances then are expected to stimulate the immune system in our body to produce more T cells and NK cells to resist cancer.  However, these substances must first be absorbed into the body, and although they may directly prevent cancer, they may not be able to directly cure cancer.

 

Method for Cultivating a Large Quantity of  NK Cells

In the past, cultivating a large quantity of living NK cells was very difficult.  Now technology has a breakthrough.  Scientists can now draw NK cells from cancer patients and cultivate them outside of the paitents’ body to increase the NK cells to a certain quantity, then return these NK cells to the patients’ body.   Generally, initially 30 to 50 cc of peripheral venous blood from the patient is drawn.  A minute amount of said cells is separated from the blood, and then growth factor protein interleukin-2 is used to stimulate these cells.  After two weeks of cultivation to increase them, the minute quantity of said cells has increased to 0.5 to 5 billion and they are then infused back to the patient’s body intravenously.  Generally the number of NK cells in a healthy human body is 100 to 200 million.  A simple calculation shows us that with one regimen of NK therapy, the number of NK cells in a patient’s body after his infusion is equivalent to 10 to 50 times that of a healthy person’s number of NK cells.

From the above explanation, we now know that NK therapy is a powerful and highly effective cancer treatment.  And because it is a medical treatment tailor-made to a person, using only the patient's cells, we find very few side effects and no rejection.  It is a simple, effective and safe method of treating cancer among the newest powerful cancer treatments.  We are convinced that in the very near future NK auto-immunotherapy as a treatment for combatting cancer therapy will be widely used.  As for the length of treatment, it is determined by the patient’s condition or his improvements with the disease.  In the beginning of the concentrated treatment, therapy can be given weekly, with each therapy regimen totaling 10 to 12 courses.  The number of courses in a regimen is determined by each patient’s condition.  In the maintenance period after the concentrated treatment period, depending on the resultant control of the patient’s illness, one course is needed every 2 to 3 months to ensure no recurrence of cancer.

 

Dr. Shu’s Clnincal Experience

 Zeng Zhenwu, Ph.D., is a Taiwanese, who has lived in Japan for 30 years.  He has an outstanding technique for NK cultivation.  He can cultivate highly pure (>90%) NK cells.  In 2006 Dr. Shu personally visited Dr. Zeng in Japan and saw various successful samples with his own eyes.  As a consequence, Dr. Shu introduced the NK cell therapy after his return to Taiwan.  In Taiwan, at least 200 patients, both sick and healthy, have received the killer cell therapy.  Major hospitals such as Beirong (“North Glory”), Zhongrong (“Central Glory”), Maxie and Xinguang (“New Brightness”) all have conducted NK therapy on a small scale one after another.  However, due to lack of support of the Department of Health and its request of each of the major hospitals to conduct large clinical trials, requiring expenditure of not less than tens of millions of NT dollars and many years, none of the hospitals—not even if they were commercial firms—could succeed.  For that reason, and because this important therapy will not be able to be properly disseminated and used in Taiwan, even though it is a legal standard method of treatment, I have decided to introduce NK therapy without regard to provisions of the Department of Health.

 I have asked President Chen of the National Taiwan University about NK therapy.  He is a liver cancer expert.  He said the current technology for cultivation is not ideal, the quantity is too small, so that such a therapy cannot be applied clinically.  Because the techniques in Taiwan are still inadequate, we have worked with Dr. Zeng in cooperation, drawing 30 cc of blood from a patient in Taiwan and sending it to a laboratory in Japan, where the NK cells are separated and cultivated for two weeks until the cells have multiplied by 3 to 10 times.  Then the cells are return and infused into the patient, allowing the immunity of the patient to increase tenfold all at once, sometimes even up to 50-fold for some people, and having a positive effect in treating all kinds of cancer.  Since each cell has a finite life, red blood cells surviving 120 days and white blood cells three to four weeks, and two weeks have been spent in the laboratory, so after infusion back into the patient’s body, the cells have only about 7 to 10 days of life remaining.  Therefore, a shot is given once each week, making 12 shots in three months for a regimen. 

Best therapy scenarios are:

1.      Surgery has not fully removed the cancer, or there is lymphatic infection.
2. Chemotherapy is ineffective or chemotherapy side effects are excessive and the patient cannot tolerate them.
3. The patient has an improved cancer marker.
4. The economically well-off patient who does not want to chemotherapy.

NK cells, about 100 million, account   NK cells have tentacles, which,        Then cytokines are released, thus    

for approximately 10-15% of the      once attached to cancer cells, will       dissolving the cancer cell.    

lymphocytes.                      not release.z

 

 

  

NK cells do not harm normal cells, but once a normal cell   If the NK immune cells are  If the cancer cells multiplies becomes a cancer cell, the killer cells will immediately     normal, the cancer cell will  and has become a tumor, the

attack it                                           be destroyed by them.      NK cells will surround it to effect a peaceful coexistence.

 

                             

NK cells make up sacrificial death     And then releasing cytokines to       NK cells circulate in the blood and

squads, even living in cancer cells       dissolve the cancer cells                     destroy cancer cells on encountering

without letting go                                                                                                 them

             

                                                            

This shows how cancer is organized, with NK                   Photograph with  Dr. Zeng Zhengwu in      

cells as the brown-colored cells                               Japan October 2006                                                                                                

                           

 

Cultivated NK cells  >96%           Cultivated NK cells along         All cancer cells were  side with cancer cells            killed after a few hours


30 cc of blood drawn from a patient is sent to a Japanese laboratory, where the blood cells are isolated and cultivated

 

  

 

This is a liver metastasis from a colon cancer, with the              This is a malignant glioma in the brain, with NK cells

cancer tumor decreasing progressively after NK therapy        able to rid the tumor

 

  NK cells can reduce a brain edema

 

This is the C, B hepatitis, with the virus declining in number after injection with NK cell

Another case of a patient with hepitis C

The third case of hepitis C

Advantages and Disadvantages of NK Therapy:

1.      Tailored according to the individual, therefore wholly without side effects, and it is very safe

2.      To prevent cancer cells from migrating and recurring: Absent any migration or any recurrence of the illness, then it cannot be called cancer.  When does migration or recurrence occur?  Even doctors do not know!  Doctors schedule your examinations, waiting for such recurrence to happen.  But once a recurrence happens, then one cannot be saved!

3.      For large tumors, it is ineffective.  For example, for Dr. Shu’s tumors, which were 5-6 cm, amounting to several tens of billions of cells already, using several billions to combat tens of billions is very difficult.  Therefore for large tumors, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are better for ridding them

4.      With a weekly course of transfusion back to the patient, how long would pricking the patient continue?  The NK cells transfused into the body again can only live for 7-10 days, so the patient has to be pricked continuously every week.  Until when is not known

5.      For NK cells cultivation, blood has to be sent to Japan, and the cost is very expensive.  One course is sixty thousand NT dollars (US$1,875).  Then 12 courses will be seven hundred twenty thousand NT dollars (US$22,500).  One cannot do this without considerable financial resources.

In Taiwan two hundred people have undergone this therapy.  Most of them are wealthy people in Taipei.  They would go to mainland China for a meeting, but before going, they would get an infusion first because of the extremely bad sanitation conditions in mainland China.  One patient, who has terminal cancer with mestastasis in the brain, got 50 courses of re-infusions, spending three million NT dollars (US$93,750)!  If this patient had left his care to Western medicine, he would be dead long time ago!  After receiving NK therapy, he is still living.  Many people would like to have NK therapy, but they have one question: “In spending so much money, is there any guarantee, any protection?”  Absolutely none!  It is as I am training one billion troops for your body, and your drinking Tianxian Elixar is like arming them with very good weapons, and your taking ATP cellular food is like having a very good supply in reserve, so that the troops are well prepared to do battle.  And how do they do battle with cancer?  By relying on a commander’s orders.  And who is the commander?  You are the commander.  If you are afraid, are stressed out, fearful, knocked down, then all the troops will collapse.  If you stand up bravely, you will be helped immensely!  Anti-crusader Li Feng, M.D. has written a book, I Have Earned Three Decades.  She herself is a lymphoma patient and is also a pathology expert.  She informs us that she sees cells under a microscope.  If the cells are very healthy,  then the person whose cells they are will be very energetic.  And if the cells are dying, the person whose cells they are will be very lethargic.  The cells represent the person.  When you are fearful, afraid, your cells are also fearful, afraid.  Therefore you must return to the original point, standing up for yourself; then the NK cells can assist you.  If you continue to fall, then no method will be effective.  I will tell you one thing: “When you cry, everybody will run away; when you laugh, everybody will laugh with you.”



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