Scientists at Stanford University say they have developed a cancer vaccine that has completely eliminated tumors in mice, and human trials are on the way.According to researchers, small amounts of two immune-stimulating agents that were injected into the mice’s tumors led to the “complete obliteration” of cancerous cells.
The vaccine worked on laboratory mice with transplanted mouse lymphoma tumors in two sites on their bodies. When scientists injected one tumor site, they found that tumors in the second, untreated site also disappeared. The researchers said they saw similar results in mice with breast, colon and melanoma tumors.
“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. “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.”
Scientists published their findings in the Science Translational Medicine journal last Wednesday.
Unlike traditional vaccines that target an infection before a virus or bacteria is introduced into the body, this shot is meant to be administered after a person is diagnosed with cancer, triggering the immune system to target the cancer cells. Scientists tested the vaccine on 90 mice, with 87 being cured of cancer. The cancer returned in three of the mice, but the tumors again regressed after a second treatment.
“In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal,” he said.
Scientists said they have launched a clinical trial to test the effect of the treatment in patients with low-grade lymphoma. If successful, Levy believes the treatment could be useful for many tumor types.
“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.