Researchers have developed a vaccine that boosts the response of the body’s immune system toward cancerous cells.
It is found that when the vaccine was given to mice, breast and prostate tumor cell growth slowed and survival rates increased.
The findings were published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Gene Therapy by scientists at Cincinnati Cancer Center and the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute. It builds on previously reported research and is an exciting discovery in the world of oncology.
Human interleukin-15 (or IL-15) is a naturally occurring protein in the human body, and it is this molecule that spurs the production of the immune system’s killer cells. IL-15R alpha is the protein’s receptor.
“We showed that the presence of both IL-15 with its receptor IL-15R alpha increased the cell-surface production and secretion of IL-15, and in turn, stopped tumor cells from reproducing,” says Dr. John Morris, the study’s principal investigator. Morris is also the co-founder of the cancer institute’s molecular therapeutics and diagnosis and lung cancer programs, and professor of hematology oncology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Another important discovery is that once the Il-15 and Il-15R proteins take action, other cells in the immune system, like T-cells for example, also increase, showing there is a true immune response to the vaccine.
The research is close to switching to clinical trials to be tested on humans.
“This provides enough evidence to begin investigating a vaccine in human cancer clinical trials to determine whether genetically modified tumor cells producing IL-15 and IL-15R alpha may induce anti-cancer responses,” say the authors in the news release.
Currently, the vaccine has been approved for clinical trials in humans with melanoma and renal cancer.
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at www.SCRhyne.com