Eliminating Cancer In Mice – New Vaccine Shows Promise
It's the holy grail of cancer research: finding a treatment option that is (1) affordable and (2) highly effective in eliminating cancer. A recent study from Stanford University Medical Center is showing great promise in pioneering a groundbreaking potential cancer treatment that might just meet both of those criteria.
The research focuses on using two different immune-stimulating agents, applied locally.
As reported by ScienceDaily, directly injecting small amounts of two different immune-stimulating agents into solid tumors in mice is leading to all traces of cancer are being eliminated. This doesn't just include the tumor itself, but also encompasses distant, untreated instances elsewhere in the mouse.
Researchers believe that applying small amounts of these agents in such a localized way could eventually lead to a rapid and affordable cancer therapy, one that is unlikely to create the same adverse side effects that often occur with whole-body immune stimulation.
At the moment, one of these agents is already approved for human use, and the other has been tested for use in humans in several unrelated clinical trials.
Advances in immunotherapy
Cancer immunotherapy aims to use the body's own immune system to fight cancer. Some approaches look to stimulate the immune system as a whole, throughout the entire body, whereas others look to more narrowly target naturally-occurring checkpoints, limiting the anti-cancer activity of immune cells. Others, like CAR T-cell therapy (which was recently approved for treating some types of leukemia and lymphomas), remove immune cells from a patient, and then genetically engineer them to attack tumor cells.
While many of the studied approaches have shown successes, they each have their own downsides, as well. For example, some create hard-to-handle side effects, and others require long treatment times and/or extensive preparation time.
In contrast, this study looks to use a one-time application of minute amounts of the two agents, with the hope of stimulating the immune cells only within the tumor itself. When studied in mice, body-wide effects were observed, including eliminating tumors throughout the animal (not just the targeted tumor itself).
Further study is underway, with a small-scale clinical trial of low-grade lymphoma patients as the focus. If successful, this approach could lead to treatment for a wide range of tumor types.
Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Debra K. Czerwinski, Shoshana Levy, Israt S. Alam, Aaron T. Mayer, Sanjiv S. Gambhir, Ronald Levy. Eradication of spontaneous malignancy by local immunotherapy. Science Translational Medicine, 2018; 10 (426): eaan4488 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4488
Stanford University Medical Center. "Cancer 'vaccine' eliminates tumors in mice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180131184751.htm
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