COVID-19 has killed scores of people globally in the last four years. However, now a new research suggests that it holds the potential to revolutionize the way cancer is treated.

A team of Australian researchers have closely scrutinized the attributes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and concluded that people’s natural immunity to the pathogen can be the key to treating different kinds of cancer.

Researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center and the University of Melbourne discovered that by using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapy on the T cells, which naturally occur in white blood cells and make the body immune to viruses, a new treatment of cancer can be introduced.

The T-cell build-up occurs after a person had COVID or was vaccinated against it. These are then genetically treated to produce the special receptors called CAR, which are empowered to identify any antigen at the surface of cancer cells and effectively eliminate it at an early stage.

During their research, the scientists took some T cell samples from people belonging to the said groups and genetically re-engineered them to identify and target cancer cells. These cells were then reinjected back to the body, and as T cells can recognize the COVID-19 virus spike protein, they are then activated by a vaccine, National Breast Cancer Foundation reported.

“This new research is really exciting, it uses COVID-19 immunity, T ‘killer’ cells, to recognize COVID, engineers them to attack breast cancer cells--really clever,” professor Robert Booy, who was associated with the research, told 9 News.

However, the therapy has turned out to be a success only for limited types of cancers. The research found the process can treat some kinds of blood cancers, but can’t still treat solid tumors. Researchers are hoping they can reach that point soon as it has yielded positive results in test tubes.

Human trials of the therapy are expected to begin within the next three years.

“It’s an extraordinary, almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use what is almost population-wide immunity to Covid-19 to harness that potential to treat breast cancer,” professor Cleola Andereisz said.