Scientists are reportedly one step closer to creating a universal cancer vaccine that would cause the immune system to attack tumors like it were a virus. The breakthrough comes a couple of months after it was announced in February that the U.S. would move to test a lung cancer vaccine available in Cuba.
Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University explained in Naturethat they created the vaccine by taking pieces of RNA code from cancer and putting them in nanoparticles of fat, which was then injected into the blood streams of three patients with different advanced stages of cancer. The vaccine motivated dendritic cells, which basically identify the cells that should be attacked so T-cells can do so.
Patients’ immune systems responded by creating killer t-cells (which destroy cells with viruses) that attacked the cancer cells.
According to the research paper, the patients were given low vaccine doses because researchers weren’t trying to test how well the vaccine worked.
Although the three patients’ immune systems reacted when given the vaccine, research showed there was no evidence it helped see off the cancers.
For one patient, a “suspected tumor” got smaller after the vaccine. Another patient who had tumors removed was free of cancer cells seven months after the vaccination. A third patient’s eight cancer tumors (after having skin cancer that later spread to the lungs) were reportedly “clinically stable” after the vaccine.
The vaccine was also tested on mice and proved effective in fighting “aggressively growing” tumors.
The research group, led by Professor Ugur Sahin from Germany’s Johannes Gutenberg University, wrote, “[Such] vaccines are fast and inexpensive to produce, and virtually any tumour antigen [a protein attacked by the immune system] can be encoded by RNA. Thus, the nanoparticulate RNA immunotherapy approach introduced here may be regarded as a universally applicable novel vaccine class for cancer immunotherapy.”
While acknowledging that this research was a “positive step,” chief executive of Worldwide Cancer Research Dr Helen Rippon said: “More research is needed in a larger number of people with different cancer types and over longer periods of time before we could say we have discovered a ‘universal cancer vaccine’. But this research is a very positive step forwards towards this global goal.”
source: complex.com BY DEBBIE ENCALADA