June 19, 2024
Cancer Drug Efficacy

Boosting Cancer Drug Efficacy: The Role of Post-Exercise Blood Samples and Natural Killer Cells

New research from the Universities of Birmingham and Bath reveals that a single bout of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise could enhance the effectiveness of antibody therapies used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The study, published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, sheds light on the potential benefits of exercise for patients undergoing specific cancer treatments.

The researchers discovered that following an exercise session, the number of natural killer (NK) cells—a type of immune cell—increased by a staggering 254%. These cells, which play a crucial role in recognizing and eliminating cancer cells, were found to be approximately twice as effective at killing cancer cells in lab tests using blood samples from CLL patients.

Additionally, the researchers identified a transient increase in the number of cancer cells present in blood samples immediately after exercise. This finding suggests that these cells may become more vulnerable to attack by NK cells and the antibody therapy.

The potential implications of this research extend beyond cancer treatment, as it could pave the way for further investigations into how exercise may improve the efficacy of other cancer therapies.

Dr. James Turner, a co-author on the study from the University of Birmingham, commented, “Our findings indicate a potential advantage for patients undergoing a specific type of treatment and could open up new avenues of research to determine whether exercise can enhance the way other cancer treatments work.”

The researchers focused on an antibody therapy called Rituximab, which is a common treatment for CLL and works by binding to a protein on the surface of cancer cells. NK cells can recognize and attack these cells once they have been marked by the therapy.

The study involved 20 participants, aged between 45 and 82, who were diagnosed with CLL but had not yet started treatment. Each participant completed a 30-minute bout of moderate-to-vigorous intensity cycling. Blood samples were collected before, immediately after, and an hour after the exercise session.

Under lab conditions, the researchers measured the number of NK cells present

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