Scientists at Stanford University developed a cancer "vaccine" made from two immune-boosting agents that can completely eliminate all traces of cancer in mice that were genetically modified to develop a variety of different tumors.
What's even more encouraging is researchers believe that the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as both a rapid-and relatively inexpensive-cancer therapy.
"When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body", said Ronald Levy, professor of oncology.
Researchers injected tiny amounts of two immune-stimulating agents into the mice's tumors, leading to the "complete obliteration" of cancerous cells. The cancer did recur in three of the animals, but the tumors later regressed after another round of immune treatment. One agent is now already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials.
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This new type of therapy would allow doctors to target the tumor or tumors having adverse effects on the body, instead of causing the entire body to go through treatment and endure adverse side effects.
"The approach worked startlingly well in laboratory mice with transplanted mouse lymphoma tumors in two sites on their bodies. In the mice, we saw unbelievable, body-wide effects, including the elimination of tumours all over the animal", said Dr Levy, a Professor of Oncology. The other agent is an antibody that binds with the T-cell receptors to "lead the charge against the cancer cells". The study was also successful in mice that had breast, colon and melanoma tumors.
The current clinical trial is expected to recruit about 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma.
Levy is hopeful this treatment will be successful on multiple types of tumors.
Similarly, recently approved cancer treatments, like auto T-cell therapy-while proven to be successful-comes with difficult-to-handle side effects as well as an extremely high cost.