Revolutionary vaccine that cured 97% of cancers in mice will be tested on humans this year
There have been so many years of research into potential cancer cures that it can often seem like an unwinnable battle. However, with the progress of science we are seeing more and more patients survive the horrible disease. As we become more aware of how to treat and prevent various forms of cancer, we may see it defeated within our lifetimes. And now it may be that a new vaccine could be the next step.
In fact, the recently-developed vaccine has already been tested out on mice, with incredible results. The vaccine cured an amazing 97 percent of tumors in the mice, and will be tested on humans with low-grade lymphoma later this year.
The injection activates the immune system to attack tumors rather than providing complete immunity, and is expected to be available beyond the clinical trials within two years if it is approved during human testing.
Researchers implanted two identical tumors in the bodies of their test mice. One tumor was injected with the vaccine, which triggered the activation of T cells, which allowed the body to fight back against the mutated cells. Their findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that it could cure multiple types of cancer and prevent further cancers from developing.
"I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumour we could potentially treat," lead author Dr. Ronald Levy from Stanford University said, "as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system."
With this treatment, patients will not require any chemotherapy, instead only treated to a low dose of radiation. On top of this, the only side effects expected are said to be a fever and some soreness around the injection site. However, as the treatment works on the particular white blood cells needed to fight low-grade lymphoma, it won't work with all cancers.
In the human trials, the vaccine will be tested across two groups, using a total of 35 patients suffering from low-grade lymphoma. Each participant will receive a low dose of radiation alongside two rounds of the vaccine over six weeks. But this isn't the only solution that has been thought up recently.
There is already a similar approach that has already been approved for certain types of lymphoma and leukemia, but there are some drawbacks - namely in the cost and the potential side-effects.
This process involves removing immune cells and genetically engineering them to attack tumors, then reintroducing them to the body. However, the treatment, named CAR-T, costs around half a million dollars per patient, and often causes fever, confusion, immune system dysfunction and even organ failure in the patients.
Cancer specialist Dr Michelle Hermiston, from the University of California, San Fransisco, remarked that in terms of cancer treatment, these new processes are only "the tip of the iceberg". With treatments that seek to improve the immune system's response to tumors, or altering the tumor itself to leave it susceptible to the body's natural defences, she may be right.