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Newly Discovered Immune Cell Could Prevent Lung Infections During Chemotherapy

Posted on September 26, 2016 by Disability Help Group

The risk of infection increases during chemotherapy as the drugs work to kill the body’s dividing cells — some of which are cancerous and some of which are immune cell producers. When chemotherapy kills the cells that produce immune cells, the white blood cell count drops drastically and opens the patient up to a higher risk of lung infections.

Lung infections such as bacterial pneumonia are life-threatening infections in chemotherapy patients. Now, research from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is looking at a new type of immune cell that could help protect against these deadly infections.

How does the cell help protect against lung infections?

Macrophages are special white blood cells that trap and digest bacteria before they can do harm to the body. Vaccine-induced macrophages (ViMs) are a specialized type of macrophage that, when introduced into the lungs, carried out protective functions without facing a reduction from the chemotherapy.

Researchers are now looking for the best method of raising the level of ViMs before starting chemotherapy as a preventative measure against lung infections.

Cancer Treatment Can Increase Severity of Symptoms and Cause Disability

Some cancers do not impair you from the start, but as they progress, they can prevent you from performing substantial gainful activity. Many people who undergo chemotherapy report worsening of symptoms, especially fatigue, that prevents them from continuing to work.

If you have cancer and have been unable to work for several months, talk to the Disability Help Group for information on your options for Social Security disability benefits.

Call us at 800-800-2009 to schedule a consultation with one of our disability advocates.