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New cancer injection eliminates tumors in mice

08 February 2018

The researchers said they saw similar results in mice with breast, colon and melanoma tumors.

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.

The findings were published this week and are getting a lot of attention.

The cancer recurred in three of the mice with lymphoma tumors, but the tumors regressed after a second treatment, the study said.

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"When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body", Dr. Ronald Levy, professor of oncology said in a university release.

Levy and his colleagues believe that applying small amounts of the agents could serve as a relatively low-cost cancer therapy, that wouldn't have as many side-effects as some cancer therapies, because the approach is so targeted.

"Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumour itself". One of the two agents that make up the vaccine is now approved for use in humans, according to researchers.

It's also unlikely to cause adverse side effects often seen with other immune stimulation, according to researchers.

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The new treatment, which was directly injected into the tumor sites of 90 mice, cured 87 mice of the disease. The role of T cells in the human body is to act like soldiers, searching out to destroy harmful invaders, like cancer.

Scientists explained that the vaccine works by combining a short stretch of DNA and an antibody that helps the immune system fight cancer cells.

If they are successful, Levy will move on to other cancers for possible treatment. "We're attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognsing".

In Levy's experiment, the cancer-fighting T cells from the immune system were rejuvenated when a microgram (one-millionth of a gram) amount of the two immune boosters was injected into a mouse's lymphoma tumor. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.

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If successful, Levy said the treatments could eventually eliminate the need for surgery to remove tumors.

New cancer injection eliminates tumors in mice