Dendritic Cells

Dendritic Cells

Many of our cancer patients at New Hope Unlimited are coming to us now because of their ability to educate themselves. The internet is a wonderful dictionary but it can also be very confusing. Trying to explain dendritic cells is confusing because these cells are so specialized and are very complex in how they work.

Ralph M. Steinman was awarded the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2007 and the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2011. Dendritic cells were first found and described by Paul Langerhans in the late nineteenth century.

Dendritic cells are immune cells which make up a large part of our immune system. These specialized cells come from hematopoietic bone marrow progenitor cells. Hematopoietic bone marrow means the area some blood cells are formed and progenitor cells are some of the first cells to form. Their main function is to help us process antigen material and present it on the surface of other cells of the immune system. An antigen is a substance in our system which is capable under the right conditions, of starting a specific immune response. In other words, dendritic cells act as messengers between the innate and adaptive immunity.

Once dendritic cells are activated, they migrate to the lymph nodes where they interact with T cells and B cells to start and shape the adaptive immune response. At a certain stage the dendritic cells grow branched projections.

Dendritic cells are constantly roaming our body looking for pathogens, bacteria and viruses. The dendritic cells are constantly in communication with other cells in our body. It is amazing but dendritic cells may also phagocytize small amounts of membranes from live cells by means of a process called nibbling. Phagocytize means kill and digest.

Dendritic cells are a very important part of getting rid of cancer. Dr. Harmon Eyre, the Vice President of Research at the AMA commented, “ Dendritic Cell Therapy or the so-called Dendritic Cell Vaccine is a newly emerging and potent form of immune therapy used to treat cancer.” It is wonderful to see that someone in his position is admitting that. However, why aren’t the physicians in the United States allowed to use it? The hospital where our clinic is located has been using it for years.

Dendritic Cell Therapy represents a new and promising immunotherapeutic approach for the treatment of advanced cancer as well as for prevention of cancer.