University of Georgia researchers have helped develop a vaccine against cancer that is showing great promise. The vaccine, developed along with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, looks to be effective against some of the cancers which are resistant to current treatments.
When cancerous cells develop, their surface-layer sugars change, yet the body doesn't recognize the cells as something foreign to fight off because they developed inside the body. This new vaccine is the first which trains the immune system to recognize and attack those changes. Tests in mice showed that it shrank breast and pancreatic tumors an average of 80%.
The testing also indicates that cancerous tumors with a similar distinctive carbohydrate pattern, like those in ovarian and colorectal cancers, could be attacked by this vaccine.
"When combined with early diagnosis, the hope is that one day cancer will become a manageable disease," said UGA Cancer Center researcher Geert-Jan Boons.
The vaccine is also fully synthetic, which means it could easily be replicated with precision.
Clinical testing could begin in 2013.
The vaccine is described in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.