Vaccine illustration picture
HEALTH – Will it soon be possible to cure cancer with a vaccine? A study published in Science translational medicine this Wednesday, January 4, reveals a new cell therapy approach developed by Professor Khalid Shah’s laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States. This vaccine has been tested on mice with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, and shows promising results.
“Our team pursued a simple idea: take cancer cells and turn them into cancer killers and vaccines”, Khalid Shah explains on the Eurekalert site. You should know that living tumor cells are like carrier pigeons. They have the peculiarity of traveling long distances through the brain, but end up returning to their original home with the other tumor cells.
Return to sender
The team of scientists therefore extracted living tumor cells, re-engineered them using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, and repurposed them to release a tumor cell-killing agent. Thus, when they return to their original home, they kill the other cancer cells. Shah’s team also planned some sort“safety switch”which, when activated, allows the killer cell to self-destruct.
But the work of scientists does not stop there. To prevent a possible return of the cancer, the researchers added a property to the modified tumor cells so that they could be easily identified by the immune system, which remembered them. If the cancer comes back, the immune cells can quickly return to the places where the cancer cells are growing to fight them. In addition to curing, the treatment would thus make it possible to prevent.
The team of scientists experimented with this technique on mice with brain cancer. The results are promising, they remain at the animal testing stage, we are still far from human clinical trials.
While brain tumors are rare cancers (less than 1.5% of cancers in France), they particularly affect children: one in five pediatric cancers occurs in the brain. Each year, more than 5,500 people are affected by a malignant tumor, with a 5-year survival rate of no more than 30%.
Also look at The HuffPost: