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Scientists develop vaccine that successfully attacks breast cancer in mice
Date:12/13/2011

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Arizona (http://www.mayoclinic.org/arizona/) and the University of Georgia (UGA) have developed a vaccine that dramatically reduces tumors in a mouse model that mimics 90 percent of human breast and pancreatic cancer cases including those that are resistant to common treatments.

The vaccine, described this week in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.pnas.org/), reveals a promising new strategy for treating cancers that share the same distinct carbohydrate signature, including ovarian and colorectal cancers.

When cells become cancerous, the sugars on their surface proteins undergo distinct changes that set them apart from healthy cells. For decades, scientists have tried to enable the immune system to recognize those differences to destroy cancer cells rather than normal cells. But since cancer cells originate within the body, the immune system generally doesn't recognize them as foreign and therefore doesn't mount an attack.

The researchers used unique mice developed by Sandra Gendler, Ph.D. (http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/mayo/research/gendler_lab/), the David F. and Margaret T. Grohne Professor of Therapeutics for Cancer Research at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and co-senior author on the study. Like humans, the mice develop tumors that overexpress a protein known as MUC1 (http://discoverysedge.mayo.edu/de08-2-ctsa-gendler/index.cfm) on the surface of their cells. The tumor-associated MUC1 protein is adorned with a distinctive, shorter set of carbohydrates that set it apart from healthy cells.

"This is the first time that a vaccine has been developed that trains the immune system to distinguish and ki
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Contact: Jim McVeigh
mcveigh.jim@mayo.edu
480-301-4222
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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