Illustration: Chris Silas Neal

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Cancer That Kills Cancer
Most cancer treatments come with serious side effects. "You're trying to kill one cell in a neighborhood of other cells that are chemically similar, and the collateral damage is terrible," says Richard Lerner, MD, a professor of immunochemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. "The holy grail would be not to kill cancer cells but to turn them into something else." Lerner's team found that by applying antibodies to leukemia cells in their lab, they could convert them into immature dendritic cells, which support the body's immune system. Even more amazing, they found that these new cells actually turned into natural killer cells, wiping out up to 16 percent of the surrounding leukemia cells—and only leukemia cells—within 24 hours.