' Universal Cancer vaccine': Scientific researchers have performed the initial trials of a' cancer vaccine'

Researchers have found a way to persuade the body's immune system to attack tumours – and it is largely free from side effects

Scientists took a “very positive step” towards setting up a universal vaccine against cancer which enables the body’s defense mechanisms attack tumours just as if they were the herpes simplex virus, experts have said.

Writing in Nature, a world team of researchers described the direction they had taken components of cancer’s genetic RNA code, put both of them into tiny nanoparticles of fat then injected lots of people into the bloodstreams of three patients within the advanced stages with the disease.

The patients' immunity processes responded by producing "killer" T-cells meant to attack cancer.

The vaccine had also been found to be effective in fighting “aggressively growing” tumours in mice, based on researchers, who have been led by Professor Ugur Sahin from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany.

“[Such] vaccines are fast and inexpensive to generate, and every tumour antigen [a protein attacked by the disease fighting capability] could be encoded by RNA," they wrote

“Thus, the nanoparticulate RNA immunotherapy approach introduced here could possibly be regarded as a universally applicable novel vaccine class for cancer immunotherapy.”

The paper said several patients ingested low doses with the vaccine plus the aim on the trial hasn't been to test how well the vaccine worked. While the patients' natural defenses seemed to react, there seemed to be no evidence that their cancers went away for that reason.

In one patient, a suspected tumour on the lymph node got smaller after these people were given the vaccine. Another patient, whose tumours was surgically removed, was cancer-free seven months after vaccination.

The third patient had eight tumours which in fact had spread through the initial melanoma into their lungs. These tumours remained “clinically stable” after these people were given the vaccine, the paper said.

The vaccine, which used a volume of different components of RNA, activated dendritic cells that select targets to the body's body's defence mechanism to attack. This was accompanied by a strong response on the "killer" T-cells that normally handle infections.

Cancer immunotherapy is causing significant excitement inside the medical community.

It is definitely being used to help remedy some cancers using a number of patients still in remission in excess of 10 years after treatment.

While traditional cancer answer to testicular along with other forms in the disease can cause a complete cure, cancer of the lung, melanoma, and a few brain and neck cancers have proved difficult to help remedy.

Being capable to inject just right into a patient’s bloodstream will be a significant step of progress. The vaccine also produced limited flu-like side-effects not like the extreme sickness due to chemotherapy.

Professor Alan Melcher, on the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Immunotherapy for cancer is usually a rapidly evolving and exciting field. This new study, in mice as well as a small quantity of patients, implies that an immune response contrary to the antigens in just a cancer could be triggered using a new kind of cancer vaccine.

“Although the analysis is very interesting, it is some way far from being of proven help to patients.  

“In particular, there is certainly uncertainty around perhaps the therapeutic benefit seen inside mice by targeting a small quantity of antigens also will apply to humans, and also the practical challenge of manufacturing nanoparticles for widespread clinical application.”

Dr Helen Rippon, us president of Worldwide Cancer Research, said “We know the disease fighting capability has great possible ways to be manipulated and reactivated to battle cancer cells, that’s why we’ve been funding research into this for fifteen years. 

“These are great and novel results, showing the promise of an RNA nanoparticle vaccine to accomplish just that.”

She described the immune response within the three patients as “positive” and noted that advanced cancer of the skin was “a notoriously difficult cancer to manage”. 

“However, more principals are needed within a larger quantity of people with some other cancer types and also over longer periods of your energy before we can easily say we've discovered a ‘universal cancer vaccine’. But this research is often a very positive step forwards towards this global goal,” she said.