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Name: Matt
Status: Student
Grade:  6-8
Location: IL
Country: United States
Date: June 2006


Question:
My question in in relation to cancer. If you were to deliberately take cancer cells from one persons body and put them into another persons body, would (a) rejection be enough to cell the spread of these cells, (b) the cancer cells could take hold? Or could you learn some new data about either how to the immune system can a destroy cancer, because the cancer cannot win. Or would you learn more about tissue rejection, because the cancer does not want to give in, and will fight the immune system and rejection?



Replies:
This has been done and is being done. In the case where animals that are highly inbred to the point that they are similar to identical twins, transplants among these animals will not be outright rejected and we have learned much about cancerous cells by manipulating other things in the donor or recipient. We have gone well beyond this basic approach with a type of animal (a mouse for example) called a "knock-out" mouse. In this approach, inbred animals have a certain gene inactivated (knocked out) and we can find out how the gene is involved in cancer.

If we simply transplant cancerous cells from a genetically non-identical animal into another animal (called an "allograft") of the same species, the transplanted cells will typically be rejected as foreign and not much will be learned unless other things are also controlled or manipulated. In controlled cases, allografts and xenografts (transplants between different species) are used and can give us some valuable information on cancer therapies and experimental treatments. In fact, one of the most commonly used models for evaluating agents for the treatment of cancer use xenografts, but they are not as simple as you propose.

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