A new possibility in combating cancer was introduced with a series of papers published in the journal Nature. The study showed how the immune system can fight cancer and how a vaccine can help the body to do so. The new vaccine would be a tailored to the genetic profile of the patient.
This is proof that personalized cancer vaccines can be very powerful and need to be applied to human cancers now.Dr. Robert Schreiber
According to the researchers, the body’s immune system always patrol and look for foreign invaders to dispose. The immune system recognizes a tumor cell because of antigens, a special molecule that arises when a cell has a tumor. The immune system works on destroying the tumor cell once it recognizes the antigens. This capability of the immune system is attributed to its T-cells.
The thing is there are cancer cells that the immune system cannot detect because of its chemical component. A cancer cell that can hide works on shutting down the T-cells until the whole immune system shuts down.
According to the researchers, what is needed is to block the capability of those cancerous cells that can destroy T cells. If T cells remain strong, it can eventually evade the tumor cell and destroy it. Researchers are suggesting that every vaccine would be different depending on everyone’s cancer cells.
Antoni Ribas, Professor of Medicine and director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Johnson Cancer Center at UCLA said, “The concept is that, if we engage the immune system to attack the cancer, the immune system has the ability to remember, it has memory. That would lead to a long-lasting response, which is the feature that’s important.”
For their research, Ribas and his team used mice with an advanced form of muscle cancer. They gave it a vaccine tailored to their specific tumor type. The result was positive as the immune systems of the animals responded by obliterating the cancer in 90% of the mice that were treated.
Dr. Robert Schreiber of the Washington University School of Medicine and one of the lead authors of the study said, “This is proof that personalized cancer vaccines can be very powerful and need to be applied to human cancers now.”
This archive content was originally published November 28, 2014 (www.betawired.com)