Scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany first experimented on mice. These initial experiments have been positive after experts managed to manipulate the immune system of the rodents into attacking and defeating several types of cancer, writes Express.
The scientists then applied the same technique to human sufferers of cancer, and found that small doses of the vaccine were influential. The side effects were relatively small, including flu-like symptoms, when , compared to the gruelling side-effects of chemotherapy.
As for the mice, the results appeared almost miraculous with, for example, lung cancer in the rodents cured within 20 days. In humans the doses applied didn’t eradicate the cancer, but they did stimulate their immune system which had anti-cancer benefits, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
According to Professor Alan Melcher, from the Institute of Cancer Research – not involved in the study – Immunotherapy for cancer is a rapidly evolving and exciting field. He states that the new study, in mice and a small number of patients, shows that an immune response against the antigens within a cancer can be triggered by a new type of cancer vaccine.
The research is however, still some way away from being of proven benefit to patients. For example, there is uncertainty about whether the therapeutic benefit seen in the mice by targeting a small number of antigens will also apply to humans, and the practical challenge of manufacturing nanoparticles for widespread clinical application
The treatment consisted of placing sections of the cancer’s RNA code into nanoparticles of fat, that was then injected in the bloodstream of the mice. After the RNA was detected by the mice’s dendritic cells, a chemical called interferon-a (IFNa) was then released, which caused T-cells in the mice to target all tumour cells which had the newly injected RNA code in it.