Super vaccine could knock out 70 percent of cancers

December 13th, 2011 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 13 (IANS) A super shot that could knock out seven out of 10 lethal cancers is on the way.

It shrunk breast tumours by 80 percent during tests and could also tackle prostate, pancreatic, bowel and ovarian cancers, according to researchers.

Even tumours that resist treatment with the best medicines available, including the ‘wonder drug’ Herceptin, may give in to the vaccine, the Daily Mail reports.

Said study co-author Sandra Gendler, professor of molecular biology at the Mayo Clinic: “Cancer cells have a special way of thwarting the immune system by putting sugar on the surface of tumour cells so they can travel around the body without being detected.”

“To enable the immune system to recognise the sugar, it took a special vaccine that had three parts to it. That turned out to be a winning combination,” she added.

Her co-author Geert-Jan Boons, a professor, said: “This vaccine elicits a very strong immune response. It activates all three components of the immune system to reduce tumour size by an average of 80 percent.”

The experiments were based on mice but researchers hope a trial on people within two years. If successful, the vaccine, could be available by 2020.

The search for cancer vaccines has until now been hampered by fears that healthy tissue would be destroyed with tumours.

Accordingly, Gendler with associates from the University of Georgia focused on a protein called MUC1 that is made in bigger amounts in cancerous cells than in healthy ones.

Not only is there more of it, but a sugar that it is ‘decorated’ with has a distinctive shape. The vaccine ‘trains’ the immune system to recognise the rogue sugar and declare war against the cancer.

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