Early studies of new cancer treatment approach 'successful'

20th June 2011

Early studies into a vaccine which could prove to be a new form of cancer treatment have been successful, according to researchers.

A team based at the University of Leeds, working with the Mayo Clinic in the US, have used a whole library of DNA to create the vaccine, meaning it contains a number of possible antigens, which activate the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Previously, gene therapy vaccines have used just one gene, meaning it has been difficult to identify the right antigens to tackle tumours, which each have their own specific proteins.

The range of DNA in the new vaccine meant that it was able to target the tumour through a variety of routes, giving it a greater chance of destroying the cancer.

University of Leeds' Professor Alan Melcher, co-author of the study, which is featured in the journal Nature Medicine, said: "The biggest challenge in immunology is developing antigens that can target the tumour without causing harm elsewhere.

"By using DNA from the same part of the body as the tumour, inserted into a virus, we may be able to solve that problem."

The research was funded by Cancer Research UK. Statistics from the charity show that approximately 309,500 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK in 2008.

Posted by Phillip Briggs

1 Vaccination Cures Established Tumors, Kottke et al. Nature Medicine. June 19th 2011

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