New cancer 'vaccine' may be able to quickly eliminate tumors

Scientists at Stanford have developed a new injection that is able to destroy tumors in mice.
By Joseph Scalise | Feb 02, 2018
A new "cancer vaccine" is able to seek out and destroy tumors in mice, according to recent research published in the journalScience Translational Medicine.

Human immune cells are able to naturally destroy tumors. However, sometimes they need a little extra help in order to do their job. The new injection attempts to incite such attacks by administering an immune-stimulating mixture directly into tumors. Though there is a long way to go on the technology, the shots in the study caused mice's immune systems to eliminate both the injected tumors and other tumors in their bodies.

Scientists have long tried to get the immune system to attack tumors. However, past attempts have yielded no results. To change that, a group of researchers from Stanford University tested the cancer-fighting abilities of 20 different molecules by injecting them into mice. The team first induced two different tumors in the rodents, and they then injected the animals with different molecules.

After extensive research, the scientists found that a pair of molecules -- a type of DNA snippet known as CpG and an antibody against the immune cell protein OX40 -- produced the best results. Though the molecules do nothing on their own, together they cleared out tumors with great efficiency. In fact, the pair caused the injected tumors to disappear in less than 10 days, and caused the non-injected ones to go away in less than 20.

The reason the pair is so effective is because the DNA snippet stimulates dendritic cells that help instigate counterattacks against tumors, while OX40 helps trigger cancer-fighting T cells.

"When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body," said study co-authorDr. Ronald Levy, a researcher at Stanford University, according toTech Times.

Though there is no doubt the injection has potential, researchers are not yet sure if it will work in human patients. As most cancer therapies tested on rodents do not work well on humans, the team is cautious about their early success. Even so, there is a lot of potential and researchers hope to move onto to human subjects in the near future.

"The data is very impressive, particularly for the uninjected tumors," added Drew Pardoll, animmunologist at the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in Baltimore, Maryland, who was not involved in the study, according to Science.

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