A cancer vaccine which has proven to be successful in mice will soon begin trials on humans.
Developed by a team at Stanford University, this innovative cancer vaccine is said to attack tumours all over the body after one injection into a specifically targeted tumour which the researchers claim will prompt a defensive reaction all over the body, targeting other tumours which may have spread throughout.
It’s understood trial subjects will be delivered one shot, a combination of two vaccines, to fight the cancer.
Building off successful tests, where they were able to eliminate even the most aggressive spread of cancer in mice, the two lead researchers at Stanford are now looking for lymphoma patients to see if their vaccine works on human subjects.
They contend their vaccine is both cost-effective and unlikely to have any negative side-effects, which is often seen in standard medical cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as the shot’s application is localised.
One of the lead authors of the research, Ronald Levy, MD – a professor of oncology and whose lab developed Rituximab, a conventional form of chemotherapy – told the Daily Mail:
When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body.
This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customisation of a patient’s immune cells.
According to Levy’s research team, this new and innovative shot which they have developed could potentially work on the various types of cancers. It’s essentially a unique type of immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy in itself works in various kinds of ways; some stimulate the entire immune system, others target certain areas to stop cancer from spreading and others (such as the newly-approved CAR T-cell therapy for example) eliminate the immune cells from the body to genetically-engineer them.
All of these are successful procedures in their own right, however as with any form of cancer treatment and there’s always a negative side effect, either by way of process, the length of the treatment or in most cases the physical (and mental) after-effects it leaves on the patient.
All of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice.
Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.
The way in which Levy and his team have developed and applied the vaccine is quite unique, essentially it works to reactivate specific T cells through the injection of a microgram (a millionth of a gram) amounts of two agents directly onto a tumour.
Agent one consists of a strain of DNA which works alongside nearing immune cells to maximise the possibility of a mobilised receptor on a T cells’ surface. The second agent is an antibody which latches on to said receptor, therefore prompting the T cells to attack the cancer cells.
Because the cancer vaccine injected directly into a tumour it specifically teaches T cells, which already recognise cancer as they’re already inside it.
This is a very targeted approach.
Only the tumor that shares the protein targets displayed by the treated site is affected. We’re attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing.
He also believes the vaccine he helped develop will have no limitations on any type of tumour it ‘could potentially treat’ so long as there has been an infiltration of the immune system.