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A novel vaccine proves a shot in the arm for colorectal cancer patients

British researchers have produced a vaccine that activates the immune systems in colorectal cancer patients to attack cancerous cells. //

During a clinical trial of 67 patients, researchers at the University of Nottingham discovered that when the vaccines were injected pre and post surgery of the cancerous growth, it activated the immune cell production in nearly 70 percent of patients. The November 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research has carried the details of this research.

"This is the first vaccine shown to stimulate TNF-alpha – an immune-system protein that is very effective at killing cancer cells," said Lindy Durrant, senior author of the study and professor of cancer immunotherapy at the university.

The vaccine works by stimulating the patients' immune response to generate infection-fighting white blood cells called T cells, which in turn produce immune system proteins called cytokines that destroy cancer cells. The antibody contained in the vaccine, called 105AD7, was cloned from a patient who survived seven years with liver metastases from colorectal cancer, Durrant explained.

"This is very unusual as most patients die within one year of getting liver metastases," she said. "I thought if this antibody had helped this patient, if we could clone it, it might help others."

105AD7 is structurally similar to CD55, a protein that attaches to sugar molecules and is overexpressed in colorectal cancer cells, protecting them from attack by the body's immune system. While low levels of CD55 occur in all cells exposed to the immune system, increased expression of the protein has been observed in multiple types of tumors, including up to 80 percent of colorectal cancers.

During the trial -- the largest to date looking at 105AD7 plus surgery -- 67 patients with colorectal cancer who were scheduled for surgery to remove their primary tumor were randomly assigned to receive either 100 micrograms of 105AD
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