Killing the disease without killing the patient is an old dilemma for doctors fighting cancer and some of the tougher microorganisms such as fungal infections in individuals with suppressed immune systems. Drugs have little effect when a patients own immune system isnt available to help, and these fungi can resist external radiation that would kill even a perfectly healthy human. But they can be easily killed by a very small dose of radiation inside their cells.
Monoclonal antibodies can be designed to deliver radiation to specific cell types while sparing surrounding tissue. These designer antibodies, armed with radioactive isotopes, have been found to be highly effective against some types of cancer, but the combination may also be useful in other types of serious disease. This technique is known as radioimmunotherapy (RIT).
A study appearing in the February issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine demonstrates that radioimmunotherapy (RIT) provides a new, highly effective way to kill Cryptococcus neoformans and Histoplasma capsulatum, the fungi responsible for fungal meningitis and pneumonia, using much smaller levels of radiation than required to kill the fungi by external radiation. The study used organism-specific monoclonal antibodies coupled with radioactive isotopes of bismuth or rhenium.
Gavin McDonald | EurekAlert!
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