Scientists have made a step forward in the creation of a universal cancer vaccine. Researchers have claimed that the universal cancer vaccine enables the body’s immune system to attack tumors and treat them as virus.
The early trials results in humans, as well as, in mice have been published in Nature. The study was conducted by researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University, Biopharmaceutical New Technologies, Heidelberg University Hospital and the Cluster for Individualized Immune Intervention.
Scientists have extracted genetic codes called RNA from cancer cells and implanted them in nanoparticles of fat. The Scientists did a series of experiments on mice before developing the vaccine. They used different types of RNA containing nanoparticles covered by fatty acid coatings. The experiments with mice were successful as the vaccines worked on them.
Next, they injected the mixture into the bloodstream of three cancer patients, who were in their advance stages. The result was extremely encouraging as the patients’ immune system produced “killer” T-cells designed to attack cancer, reported Independent.
In most cancer cases the immune system cannot differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells. Consequently, it is extremely important to give the immune system the ability to recognize and fight cancer cells, as stated by NHS.
The team, led by researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany, stated, “[Such] vaccines are fast and inexpensive to produce, and virtually any tumour antigen 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.”
The report read that the three patients were given low doses of vaccine during the trial and it was not aimed at testing how well the vaccine worked. Although the patients’ immune system reacted, no evidence was found to show that their cancer was eradicated completely. One of the patients had a suspected tumor on a lymph node and its size reduced.
The second patient’s tumor was surgically removed and seven months after the vaccination he was declared as cancer free. The third had eight tumors and they remained clinically stable after the vaccination.
However, only after larger trials in many people with different types of cancer it could be determined whether a universal cancer vaccine could be produced using these techniques.
Dr Helen Rippon, chief executive of Worldwide Cancer Research 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.”