Science 4 min read

Cancer Vaccine Developed by Researchers Passes Mice Trial / /

Researchers have reportedly developed a cancer vaccine that’s able to wipe out cancerous tumors in mice.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine developed a cancer vaccine that could potentially eliminate many forms of the disease. The vaccine is said to be composed of two immune-stimulating agents that are directly injected into solid tumors.

Cancer Vaccine researchers Ronald Levy and Idit Sagiv-Barfi
Cancer Vaccine researchers Ronald Levy and Idit Sagiv-Barfi | Stanford University School of Medicine

In a study published in Science Translation Medicine, researchers indicated that the vaccine successfully wiped out tumors in mice. Not only did it successfully treat these tumors, but the vaccine also managed to remove all other traces of cancer. This includes distant, untreated metastases in the mice. The researchers, led by oncology professor Dr. Ronald Levy, believe that local applications of said agents could serve as an immediate and highly affordable substitute to current cancer therapies.

“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” Dr. Levy was quoted as saying. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”

@StanfordMed researchers have made a major breakthrough in the study of cancer treatment with the development of their cancer vaccine. #Lymphoma #CancerClick To Tweet

The Cancer Vaccine

The Stanford cancer vaccine doesn’t work like other vaccines that have been tested previously. During their experiment, the researchers injected the compound directly into one of the affected sites of mice that had cancerous tumors.

“Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself,” explained Dr. Levy. “In the mice, we saw amazing, body-wide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.”

Mice used to test the cancer vaccine
Mice with lymphoma | stm

Normally, while a tumor grows, the immune system’s cells, including T-cells, move in to stop the abnormal proteins produced by the cancer cell. However, cancer cells can mutate to avoid the attacks of the immune system. This makes it tricky to treat the disease.

Unlike the usual cancer treatment that involves getting rid of the patient’s immune cells, the Stanford vaccine exploits a certain oddity of the immune system. The vaccine, instead, reactivates the T-cells.

One of the two agents, called CpG oligonucleotide, together with other immune cells, intensifies the T-cells’ activating receptors called OX40. Then, the other agent activates the T-cell to fight cancer cells.

These two agents form a compound that has to be injected in microgram amounts into the tumor. This approach only activates the T-cells inside the tumor that have already recognized the threatening cancer cells. While the reactivated T-cells work on the cancer cells, some of them leave the site and moves to other tumor sites to destroy them.

When tested on 90 mice that had lymphoma in two different places, 87 of the rodents were cured successfully on the first attempt. The other 3 mice have reportedly experienced recurrences of the lymphoma that were immediately cleared after the second round of treatment.

The cancer vaccine was also tested on mice models of breast cancer. The researchers said that the treatment worked, prevented a recurrence of the tumor, and increased the lifespan of the animals. However, when tested on mice with both lymphoma and colon cancer, injecting the agents in the lymphoma only cured the injected area and not the area affected by colon cancer.

Still, the study confirms that its possible to treat cancer without the need to genetically engineer cells outside the body or extract its RNA to be injected back again while applying electric charges.

The efficacy of the vaccine is yet to be tested. Human clinical trials are said to be underway, with the researchers expecting to recruit 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma. Should it pass clinical trials, the cancer vaccine may be used to prevent metastases of tumors without the need for extraction.

What can you say about this newly developed cancer vaccine? Do you think this is the key to widescale cancer treatment? Or will it only affect a small number of cancer cases?

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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