Cancer is one of the most deadly diseases humans have ever witnessed. Even though advancements in modern medical science have successfully enhanced the living spans of cancer patients, hundreds of thousands of people all across the world are still succumbing to this illness, characterized by the abnormal degeneration of cells in the human body. And now, a new strategy formulated for developing vaccines against cancer has shown promise, and scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine at the New York-Presbyterian University Hospital believe that it could save the lives of millions of people.
A vaccine that could save millions of human lives
Developing a vaccine to fight cancer is not a new concept, and scientists have been trying to develop effective medications and jabs to save the lives of cancer survivors for several years. However, this new approach by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine is exploring the feasibility of preventing cancer, rather than treating it.
"There have been many trials that have tried to use cancer vaccines as a therapy, not as a prevention, but those have largely been unsuccessful. However, we've known for many years that when cancers first start, when they're at the level of a single cancer cell that has just transformed or a few cancer cells, that's when they're most vulnerable," said Dr Steven Lipkin, vice chair for research in the Weill Department of Medicine, Express.co.uk reports.
Preventing cancer before it affects
Scientists, during the research, tried to develop a potentially cancer-preventing medicine, and they targeted Lynch syndrome, the most common genetic predisposition to gastrointestinal cancer. Researchers, using a mouse model of Lynch syndrome detected the most common neoantigens that appeared in the animals' tumors.
Using computational methods, researchers detected four neoantigens that were widespread in mouse tumors that were capable of stimulating strong immune responses. Scientists later vaccinated the Lynch syndrome mice with a combination of that four protein antigen and found that it generated strong immune responses. These mice also had lower tumor burdens when compared to non-vaccinated mice.
Lipkin revealed that the development of this vaccine cannot be considered as a cure for cancer, but even if this vaccine succeeds in reducing the number of patients by 10 percent, it could save millions of lives.