Home / Science and Tech / Path Breaking New Cancer 'Vaccine' Cured 97% of Tumors in Mice. What Does That Mean for People?

Path Breaking New Cancer 'Vaccine' Cured 97% of Tumors in Mice. What Does That Mean for People?

By Andrew Alpin, 27 June

The quest for a cure for cancer is a never-ending one but fortunately, the extent of research going on around the world on a war footing is yielding results. A promising new study at Stanford Medical Institute has just finished testing a new vaccine that kills almost 97% of cancerous tumors in mice. But hold that yawn!! This isn’t just another study because this one is all set to go into human clinical trials where the institute is in the very process of accepting patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to be part of the unique new phase of trials.

1Human patients to be accepted for trial

Even though experts feel that it is a long road to the point where the drug may be administered to cancer patients, the fact remains is that 35 patients will be taken for trial and testing and if that succeeds, it would be a huge boost in the war against cancer. The biggest advantage of the vaccine is that it is chemotherapy free.

Human patients to be accepted for trial

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2Vaccine uses the immune system to fight cancer

The new cancer vaccine looks very promising feel researchers and now Stanford will test the same on 35 people with Lymphoma a dreaded form of cancer. The test will be carried out by the end of this year.

Vaccine uses the immune system to fight cancer

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3The new vaccine is free from chemotherapy

SF gate a news outlet in San Francisco reported that the new vaccine is free from chemo and involves the body’s immune system to fight off cancer and heal itself. Based on immunotherapy which is a fairly recent treatment, it is quite successful in other cancers.

The new vaccine is free from chemotherapy

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4Immunotherapy to attack and kill cancer cells

The new cancer vaccine that was tested on mice in Stanford institute engaged the new medical area of immunotherapy that seeks to stimulate the body’s immunity to attack and kill cancer cells and tumors. The research was led by Doctor Ronald Levy and Doctor Idit Sagit Barfi.

Immunotherapy to attack and kill cancer cells

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5Research on mice almost 100% successful

The studies and research in mice turned out highly successful where several types of cancers including breast cancer, colon cancer and lymphoma were eliminated in 87 out of 90 mice which is a phenomenal result for any cancer research trial. In fact, even tumors that had spread to other parts of the body were also killed.

Research on mice almost 100% successful

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6Experts call it an exciting research with promise

According to the regional director of breast surgery at Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Westchester New York, Doctor Alice Police has stated that the research and results at Stanford were no less than exciting. She also felt that it may be too soon to celebrate since animal research results may or may not display the same results in people. “We've been able to cure a lot of cancers in mice for a long time, what's more, the current human trials are for patients with lymphoma, and so it could be many years before doctors know if this treatment works for other cancers, such as breast and colon cancer.

Experts call it an exciting research with promise

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7What the vaccine consists of

Technically speaking the new treatment being researched at Stanford isn’t exactly a vaccine which is a term for substances that provide long-term immunity against various diseases. The treatment consists of a vaccine type of injection and is based on immunotherapy.

What the vaccine consists of

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8Immune cells are targeted to kill cancer cells

The injection consists of two types of agents. One is an agent that stimulates an immune cell called T-cells which attacks cancer in the body. The problem in cancer is that as the cancer tumor grows, the T-cell activity which in normal cases kills cancer cells gets suppressed instead thus reducing the ability of the T-cells to prevent cancer from spreading.

Immune cells are targeted to kill cancer cells

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9Injected directly into immune cells

The new vaccine is injected directly into a cancer tumor and reactivates T-Cells which are already inside them. The agents present in the treatment work together to stimulate the T-cells and activate their cancer pre-screening and recognition abilities to kill the tumors.

Injected directly into immune cells

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10How it killed cancer cells in mice

During the animal studies, the vaccine was injected into only one tumor and that was enough for the medication to spread to other tumors killing cancer cells. When cancer spreads it is known as metastatic cancer. Active T-cells usually travel to other parts of the body in normal cases to kill cancer cells.

How it killed cancer cells in mice

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11Immunotherapy has proved successful in certain cancers

Immunotherapy in mice was proved successful through the research of one study published in January in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It was this study done by Doctor Levy that is being taken to the next human stage. Mice were induced with breast cancer in all 10 of their mammary pads. When they were injected with the drug, it ended up killing the tumor and also preventing the growth of future tumors.

Immunotherapy has proved successful in certain cancers

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12A subject of constant research

Immunotherapy has been the subject of research for quite some time. It is also an approved treatment for cancer where CAR T Cell therapy is one such process that has now been approved for leukemia and lymphoma. The therapy removes certain immune cells from the body of a patient and is then genetically engineered and re-injected into the patient to kill cancer.

A subject of constant research

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13The new treatment is different from engineered immune cells

In comparison to CAR T cell therapy, the new treatment looks more promising as it will not need doctors or lab professionals to remove immune cells to fight cancer. Doctor Ronald Levy, professor of oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine said "We're attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing,” Incidentally the professor is the senior author of the Science Translational Medicine study.

The new treatment is different from engineered immune cells

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14A huge milestone in the war against cancer

Experts feel that the new medicine is extremely interesting as it will apply to colon and breast cancer which currently does not have a treatment involving immunotherapy. If the trials are successful, it will be a huge milestone in the war against cancer. Doctor Police feels that even though there may be a long way to go, we have gone further down the road.

A huge milestone in the war against cancer

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15The new vaccine in phase 1

The new cancer vaccine is now in phase 1 of a clinical study where the safety of the treatment will be tested. Once that is successful, it will go on to test if the treatment itself is effective and safe or not. But researchers are extremely optimistic and hopeful.

The new vaccine in phase 1

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16Who is eligible for the trials?

According to the website of Stanford Institute, only patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are eligible for the human trials phase 1. Moreover, for those who do not qualify there are other clinical trials going on at Stanford that one can volunteer for.

Who is eligible for the trials?

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