New Cancer Vaccine Extremely Effective In Mice, Human Trials Underway

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Cancer researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have recently revealed their findings regarding a brand new experimental cancer vaccine that is proving to be quite effective in mice. The vaccine apparently had very dramatic results in fighting different types of cancer, with the majority of the animal subjects becoming completely cancer-free after just one inoculation. According to the research published in the Science Translational Medicine journal, 87 out of the 90 mice were completely cured. The other three subjects had experienced recurrences of cancer cells on their bodies, but they eventually disappeared after another round of vaccination.

While vaccines are generally applied after a sickness has already infected a subject, the new cancer vaccine is meant to be injected after the fact. The vaccine functions like a regular vaccine as it stimulates the immune system to immediately respond to the infection, which in this case would be cancer.

The rodent subjects were implanted with different types of cancers, including melanoma tumors, breast cancer, colon cancer, and lymphoma. Aside from the artificially transplanted tumors, the scientist also included mouse models with naturally occurring breast cancers. Lead author Ronald Levy explained in an interview with Medscape Medical News that they wanted to make sure that the vaccine worked on not just artificially transplanted tumors but also on naturally occurring tumors. This would apparently ensure that all factors are being considered as there are certain aspects found in natural tumors that are not present in artificially transplanted ones.

The vaccine utilizes an improved version of the situ vaccination technique that basically stimulates the T cells inside a tumor to trigger an immune response or a call for help that tells the body to launch a full assault on the particular area. When a person gets cancer, the body usually reacts very quickly and starts attacking the rogue cells. However, cancer cells often mutate too quickly and will often find a way to shut off the dangers signals being sent out in the particular area. The vaccine, which contains a special antibody and a CpG Oligodeoxynucleotide DNA, triggers the T Cells within the cancerous tumor to send out a protein called OX40 that signals other immune cells to attack.

Human Cancer Cells
Close up of human cancer cellsFeatured image credit: American Cancer SocietyGetty Images

The researchers are hoping that the vaccine will be similarly as effective in humans without causing any overly harmful side effects. Plans for human trials are reportedly already underway with a small 15-patient clinical trial. If everything goes according to plan, the scientists are planning to move on to larger batches of human subjects with varying types of cancers.