Preliminary research shows that an experimental vaccine may cure prostate cancer in mice.
Unlike previous cancer vaccine attempts, the new vaccine appears to be smart enough to outfox prostate cancer tumors, but experts caution the research has yet to be tested in humans and is still in its infancy.
The hunt for effective cancer treatment vaccines has been going on for decades with varying degrees of success early on, but the new prostate cancer vaccine takes a markedly different approach.
Instead of aiming at a few cancer-causing proteins or antigens on the tumor, the new vaccine casts a much wider net. The goal of a cancer vaccine is to trick the body's immune system into recognizing the tumor as an invader and attacking it. This is typically done using a virus as a host.
The researchers developed a library of genetic material (DNA) from healthy human prostate tissue cells and then inserted them into a virus. The end product was intravenously injected into the mice, which recognized the antigens and launched a potent immune response, according to a report published online Sunday in Nature Medicine.
The study reported no side effects, and none of the mice developed autoimmune diseases, which had been reported in previous cancer vaccine trials.