Cancer ‘vaccine’ destroys tumors in recent study
Researchers have managed to eliminate distant cancerous growths in mice by activating T cells in tumors.
The injection of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors was found to terminate all traces of cancer by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. This included distant, untreated identical metastases in the mice. Success was seen for many different types of cancers including those that appear suddenly.
This method could serve as a fast and more financially accessible oncology treatment which is unlikely to have the typical adverse effects attached to immune stimulation.
“This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”
Human trials with lymphoma patients were rolled out in January.
How T cell treatment works
Immune cells like T cells recognize the abnormal proteins on cancer cells so they can infiltrate and attack tumors. However, as the malignancy grows, it can adapt to avoid detection.
Levy’s method reactivates the cancer-specific T cells to such an extent that after neutralizing the initial tumor, they locate and destroy other identical cancerous growths in the body.
The approach was used in mice with mouse lymphoma tumors at two sites. Injecting one tumor site with the two agents caused the regression not just of the treated tumor, but also of the second, untreated tumor. One of these agents is already approved for human use
The cancer was cured in 87 of 90 mice. In the three subjects that saw the cancer recur, after a second treatment the tumors regressed.
Similar results were obtained in mice bearing breast, colon and melanoma tumors.
“I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system,” Levy said.
If clinical trials are successful, he predicts that clinicians could inject solid tumors prior to their removal to eliminate any unknown metastases or prevent the development of potential tumors.