Cancer Vaccine To Enter Human Trials
By Jamie Timson
2 February 2018
Article published in ‘The Week‘
A revolutionary cancer vaccine that can eliminate tumours even after they have spread throughout the body is to go into human trials.
The move follows trials on mice in which the treatment worked “startlingly well”, according to researchers, with 90% of the animals cured after one injection, and the rest after a second jab.
The team at Stanford University, in California, say that “injecting tiny amounts of two drugs directly into a tumour not only kills the original cancer, but also triggers an ‘amazing bodywide’ reaction which destroys distant cancer cells”, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The drug combination works by “switching on immune cells inside the tumours which have been deactivated by the cancer, then boosting them so they can go to work killing the disease”, the newspaper adds.
“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumours all over the body,” said Professor Ronald Levy, who led the study.
“This approach bypasses the need to identify tumour-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customisation of a patient’s immune cells.”
For the human trial, “Levy plans to recruit 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma”, says the Daily Mail. “If successful, Levy believes the treatment could be useful for many tumour types.”
In the future, he believes oncologists “could inject both [agents] into solid tumours in humans before surgery as a way to prevent recurrence from stray tumours that spread but weren’t detected”, according to the newpaper.
“I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumour we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system,” Levy said.
Levy and his team “deserve a lot of credit” for testing the combined treatment on a strain of mouse that is prone to spontaneously develop breast tumours – which mimics how cancer arises in humans, immunologist Drew Pardoll, of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in Baltimore, Maryland, told Science magazine.
But “the big question is whether the approach works in people, as most rodent cancer therapies don’t translate to humans”, the magazine notes.