Experts have claimed that a breakthrough has been achieved as they work towards the development of a universal anti-cancer vaccine. The vaccine will enable the immune system of the human body to identify the cancerous cells as viruses and attack them.
The research has been published in “Nature” and describes that the fragments of the RNA gene from the cancerous cells were put inside the nanoparticles of fat and injected into the bloodstream of three advanced stage cancer patients. The immune systems of the patients identified these cells as an external threat and generated specified T-cells, designed to attack cancer.
Previously, the vaccine successfully fought off the aggressively advancing tumors in mice. The research team is led by Professor Ugur Sahin from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany. She is very optimistic about the results of the study:
“[Such] vaccines are fast and inexpensive to produce, and virtually any tumour antigen [a protein attacked by the immune system] can be encoded by RNA. Thus, the nanoparticulate RNA immunotherapy approach introduced here may be regarded as a universally applicable novel vaccine class for cancer immunotherapy.”
Only small doses of vaccine were administered to the three patients under examination, and no patient showed signs that could suggest that cancer had been eliminated from the body. While the tumor on the lymph node of one patient grew smaller, the other patient showed no signs of cancer seven months subsequent to vaccination, after undergoing surgery to remove cancerous cells. The eight tumors in the third patient had initially appeared as skin cancer and progressed on to develop into lung cancer; the tumors in this patient remained clinically stable after the vaccine had been administered.
The vaccine primarily activated the dendritic cell followed by a strong reaction from the killer T-cells that usually respond to infections. The medical community is abuzz with the prospects of cancer immunotherapy.
While some cancers can be cured completely, other types of cancer like lung cancer, brain tumors, melanoma are stubborn to treatments. The development of this vaccine is indeed a breakthrough as its flu-like side effects are a definite improvement on the extreme sickness caused by chemotherapy. The future of cancer treatment looks promising!