A new “vaccine” has been developed and it can cure up to 97% of tumors in laboratory mice. This vaccine will soon start human trials, although there is still a long way to go before it will be prescribed to cancer patients. The treatment is designed to stimulate the immune system and provoke it to attack any cancer cells. In mice with cancers such as colon cancer, breast cancer and lymphoma, the vaccine was able to eliminate all cancer tumors in 87 out of the 90 mice that were treated, even if the tumors managed to spread to other areas of the body.
It should be noted that other researchers have warned against getting too excited about these results. There have been numerous experiments in the past where scientists were able to cure cancers in mice, but they did not manage to transfer the same results to humans. There is also the issue that the human trials are only for patients that are suffering from lymphoma, not from other cancers, such as colons and breast cancers. It could be a few years before trials start for those illnesses as well.
While not technically a vaccine, because a vaccine provides long-term immunity to a disease, this treatment works similarly. It is a vaccine-like injection and it is a type of immunotherapy. It contains two agents, which combined stimulate the T cells within the cancer. T cells are a type of immune cells which recognize cancer cells right away and start to fight against them. However, as the tumor grows, it suppresses the activity of these cells and they can longer stop the cancer cells from spreading.
This treatment will reactivate the T cells when the doctor injects the vaccine into the tumor. Interestingly, by injecting the vaccine into just one tumor will also eliminate tumors that are in other parts of the animal’s body, thus being able to treat metastatic cancers as well. This result was found during one experiment, in which the mice were genetically engineered to develop breast cancer in all ten of their mammaries. After the vaccine was injected into one tumor, the treatment eliminated and prevented the occurrence of other tumors.
Immunotherapy has been used in cancer treatments in the past. The CAR T-cell therapy is one example that has been approved for certain types of lymphoma and leukemia. This is a very advanced treatment which requires the removal, genetic engineering and reimplanting of certain cells within the patients’ body in order to fight cancer.
Needless to say, an injection would greatly streamline the cancer fighting process and greatly reduce costs. This particular treatment will also improve odds of recovery from colon and breast cancers which currently have no immunotherapies at all. While nowhere near approval and widespread use for patients, these initial results are promising. The trial is in the initial phases of approval, where the treatment is being tested for safety when used for humans.