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Vaccination with embryonic stem cells prevents lung cancer in mice

rofessor of Cancer Biology and Deputy Director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, USA. He and his colleague, Dr Robert Mitchell, tested two different vaccines in the mice. One consisted of embryonic stem cells (ESC) only, obtained from mouse blastocysts (very early, pre-implantation embryos). The other vaccine consisted of the ESCs combined with cultured fibroblast cells producing GM-CSF, a growth factor usually made by white blood cells and blood vessel-lining endothelial cells, which "supercharges" the immune response and appears to enhance the vaccine-induced immunity to cancer.

Prof Eaton explained: "We needed a delivery vehicle for GM-CSF and chose STO fibroblasts because they are often used as a 'feeder layer' to maintain these particular mouse embryonic stem cells in their embryonic state. If we had used only ESCs expressing GM-CSF, they might have differentiated into non-embryonic cells, which, therefore, would not have worked as a vaccine."

He and his team injected mice with ESCs alone or ESCs + STO/GM-CSF. In mice that had Lewis lung carcinoma transplanted into them afterwards, ESCs were 80% effective in preventing tumour growth and ESCs + STO/GM-CSF were 100% effective. In mice subsequently exposed to a carcinogen that causes lung cancer (3-methylcholanthrene followed by repetitive dosing with butylated hydroxytoluene), ESCs resulted in 60% of mice remaining tumour free after 27 weeks and ESC + STO/GM-CSF resulted in 90% remaining tumour free. Importantly, tumours arising in vaccinated mice were, on average, about 80-90% smaller than tumours in unvaccinated mice. All the unvaccinated mice developed tumours. None of the vaccinated mice developed autoimmune disease or a showed a significant decline in adult pluripotent bone marrow stem cells ?both potential adverse responses to the vaccinations.

Prof Eaton said: "We think the results from the carcinogen-initiated cancers are probably the
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Source:European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer


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