Discovered vaccine that attacks several types of cancer in mice
Although studies in mice do not translate directly into remedies that work in humans, the researchers hope in the efficacy of the vaccine.
"This vaccine provokes an immune response very strong and active three components of the immune system to reduce tumor size by an average of 80%," said study co-author Geert-Jan Boons, a chemistry professor and researcher at the Center Cancer of the University of Georgia.
The vaccine works by training the immune system to attack tumors that contain a protein called MUC1 on the surface of their cells, according to study published in the journal Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
MUC1 is over 70% of the most aggressive and deadly types of cancer, including most breast cancers, pancreatic and several of melanoma.
"This is the first time a vaccine is developed that trains the immune system identify and kill cancer cells based on their different structures of MUC1 protein and sugar," said co-author of the research Sandra Gendler, professor at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
The protein is also overexpressed in 90% of patients with a breast cancer tumor known as "triple negative" do not respond to hormonal therapies such as tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors or the drug Herceptin.
These patients urgently need new treatments for cancer.
"In the U.S. alone there are 35,000 patients diagnosed each year whose tumors are triple negative," said Boons.
"So we could have a therapy for a large number of patients for whom there is currently no therapy beyond farmocológica chemotherapy," he said.
MUC1 vaccine could be used in combination with chemotherapy and as a preventive measure in patients at high risk of developing certain cancers.
Boons, Gendlser and his team are currently working on a vaccine in human cancer cells in laboratory and could begin Phase I clinical trial to test the safety of the vaccine in late 2013.