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Cancer “Vaccine” and Rats

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Brian Pham

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Ronald+Levy+%28left%29+and+Idit+Sagiv-Barfi+%28right%29+credited+as+leading+possible+treatment+for+cancer+at+Stanford+University+School+of+Medicine+-+Photo+Credit%3A++Steve+Fisch
Ronald Levy (left) and Idit Sagiv-Barfi (right) credited as leading possible treatment for cancer at Stanford University School of Medicine - Photo Credit:  Steve Fisch

Ronald Levy (left) and Idit Sagiv-Barfi (right) credited as leading possible treatment for cancer at Stanford University School of Medicine - Photo Credit: Steve Fisch

Ronald Levy (left) and Idit Sagiv-Barfi (right) credited as leading possible treatment for cancer at Stanford University School of Medicine - Photo Credit: Steve Fisch

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine shared results of an experimental cancer treatment on lab rats with tumors, specifying that the treatment eliminated tumors in most of the mice.  The study was published in Science Translational Magazine on January 31, 2018, and stated that the treatment effectively shows potential in combatting tumors.  Reports of human trials have been confirmed as patients with early-stage lymphoma are being prepared to test out the “vaccine”.  

The mice were injected with multiple molecules, including several antibodies after tumors were induced within their bodies.  One particular combination, a DNA snippet known as CpG and an antibody against immune cell protein OX40, was selected as the best treatment. The combination not only stopped the solid tumors that were marked but the other unmarked tumors as well.  

The treatment is based on immunotherapy, which essentially activates and aids the immune system to fight against abnormal cell growths within the body. An increasing amount of evidence suggests that immunotherapy has advantages over traditional treatments, including chemotherapy and drugs, in being able to more efficiently mark cancer cells without harming other cells.  However, it has also been associated with potentially dangerous side effects, including the risk of brain swelling.  Other concerns include prohibitive costs and long treatment periods, though treatments such as CAR T-cell therapy show promise in researching and developing similar treatments.  Immunotherapy up to this point has been tested mainly in patients with advanced-stage cancers and blood cancers.  The effects of the therapies are still being studied, as they are relatively new in cancer treatment and medicine.  

Cancer starts as tumors when cells do not undergo apoptosis, or programmed cell death and continues uncontrollably division of normal cells.  Since these are regarded as less specialized, the cells are able to form in essentially any part of the human body through metastasis. Malignant tumors also influence their environment to promote a faster rate of growth. Some tumors, however, are categorized as benign if these do not pose a serious risk to one’s health and are localized within one region.  

The immune system normally has certain countermeasures, such as T cells, that defend and mark abnormal cells to attack.  Cancer cells, though, can possibly evade the defenses of the immune system or even keep it from attacking altogether.  Other measures against cancer include DNA repair and tumor suppressor genes that control cell division and/or repair cells.  It is theorized that particular mutations in DNA may contribute to abnormal cell growth.  

Lung cancer cells undergoing division - Photo Credit: National Institutes of Health

Works Cited:

  1. Chen, Caroline. “Cancer Immunotherapy.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 9 Mar. 2015, www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/cancer-coup.
  2. Conger, Krista. “Cancer ‘Vaccine’ Eliminates Tumors in Mice.” News Center, Stanford Medicine, 31 Jan. 2018, med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2018/01/cancer-vaccine-eliminates-tumors-in-mice.html.
  3. Georgiou, Aristos. “Breakthrough ‘Vaccine’ Set for Use in Human Trials after Eliminating ‘All Traces’ of Cancer in Mice.” International Business Times UK, IBTimes Co., Ltd., 1 Feb. 2018, 6:29 PM, www.ibtimes.co.uk/breakthrough-vaccine-set-use-human-trials-after-eliminating-all-traces-cancer-mice-1658155.
  4. “Immunotherapy.” National Cancer Institute, 4 May 2017, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy.
  5. Mitch Leslie. “Injection Helps the Immune System Obliterate Tumors, at Least in Mice.”Science | AAAS, 31 Jan. 2018, 2:00 PM, www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/injection-helps-immune-system-obliterate-tumors-least-mice.
  6. Park, Alice. “Cancer Immunotherapy Remissions Can Be Lasting, Study Says.” Time, Time, 2 Feb. 2018, time.com/5125527/cancer-immunotherapy-remission/.
  7. “T-Lymphocytes – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022044/.
  8. “What Is Cancer?” National Cancer Institute, 19 Feb. 2015, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/what-is-cancer.

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