SUNDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Preliminary research shows that an experimental vaccine may cure prostate cancer in mice.
Unlike previous cancer vaccine attempts, the new prostate cancer vaccine appears to be smart enough to outfox prostate cancer tumors, but experts caution that the research is still in its infancy and has yet to be tested in humans.
The hunt for effective cancer treatment vaccines has been going on for decades with varying degrees of success early on, but the new prostate cancer vaccine takes a markedly different approach.
Instead of aiming at a few cancer-causing proteins or antigens on the tumor, the new vaccine casts a much a wider net. The goal of a cancer vaccine is to trick the body's immune system into recognizing the tumor as an invader and attacking it. This is typically done using a virus as a host.
The researchers developed a library of genetic material (DNA) from healthy human prostate tissue cells and then inserted them into a virus. The end product was intravenously injected into the mice, which recognized the antigens and launched a potent immune response, according to a report on the findings, published online June 19 in Nature Medicine.
The study reported no side effects, and none of the mice developed autoimmune diseases, which had been reported in previous cancer vaccine trials.
"Many cancer vaccines display one, two or few antigens and, although this is successful in alerting the immune system to the cancer, the tumor eventually outsmarts the vaccine and adapts," explained the study's lead author, Richard Vile, an immunologist and professor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Vile said he hopes that the new approach is smarter than the tumor. If the tumor adapts to the antigen, he explained, the vaccine launches a second wave of attacks.
The approach also makes the development easier, he said,
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