New Cancer 'Vaccine' In The Works: Treatment Reverses Tumor Functions

Researchers recently developed a possible cancer “vaccine” that kills tumors and treats non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The breakthrough discovers also works on cancers that resist conventional treatments.

Researchers at Mount Sinai in New York developed an immunization technique by studying how T-cells attack cancers. They looked at how they can manipulate immune cells to easily recognize indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (iNHL) using cross-presentation in the body. As per Celgene, iNHL is a type of blood cancer which is generally an incurable disease.

The study was conducted on 11 patients who were suffering from iNHL. They were induced with both anti-tumor T-cell responses and remissions from the vaccination site. According to Director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program of Mount Sinai Joshua Brody, The in situ vaccine approach showed signs of success as their tumors lured cancer cells toward it, preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.

Brody added that the method may also work on other immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockade. In fact, a subsequent experiment was done on mice and they were responsive to the checkpoint blockade administered with the vaccine. The experiment resulted in double cancer remission in mice from 40 to 80 percent.

How Was It Administered?

Cross-presentation needs dendritic cells to present markers to toxic T-cells. They can be summoned with the right kind of stimulants. They used two stimulants: one that calls the dendritic cells to the tumor, the other encourages the cells to present antigens on their surface. This allows the immune system to easily identify cancer cells that are usually recognized as normal cells.

According to Nature, they injected a tumor with localized radiotherapy to cause the two stimulants to reverse the tumor’s usual function. Instead of destroying more cells, the tumor acted as a vacuum that drew the cancer cells to it. It acted as a recruiting agent and prevented the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.

At present, the blockade with the cancer vaccine is currently being evaluated to patients suffering from breast, lymphoma, head and neck cancer. The vaccine alone is being tested on liver and ovarian cancer patients. The success rate of the experiments convinced the researchers that further research may render the treatment as effective on the generally incurable disease that is cancer.