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Indiana University

Show: August 3, 2008:

Produced by WFYI Public Media in Association with Indiana University School of Medicine

IU School Medicine
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Did You Know?: Tobacco Treatment for Cancer

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Air date: August 3, 2008


Did You know?
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Wishard Health Services

Did you Know? is presented by Wishard Health Services, becoming Eskenazi Health in 2014.

Did you know that tobacco plants could one day be used to help cure cancer?

You heard it right. The same plants that are used to make cancer-causing cigarettes can be engineered to grow proteins used to fight a cancer called B-cell lymphoma.

Thatís according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The idea is that the tobacco-grown proteins can be used to create vaccines that stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.

The researchers tested the vaccines on 16 cancer patients. In more than half the cases, the tobacco proteins worked to cause an immune response without any side effects.

Itís far too soon to start celebrating a miracle cancer cure, though. At this stage, all the tobacco vaccine did was trigger an immune response. It's not yet clear if such a response is enough to effectively destroy cancer cells.

The researchers are optimistic, though. They hope that a second-phase clinical trial will reveal just how potent a tobacco-derived vaccine may be in the fight against cancer.

And now you know.