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Vaccine for skin cancer could be in the pipeline

New Delhi, Wed, 21 Mar 2012 NI Wire

The chances of getting a cure for skin cancer have increased with development of a vaccine. Skin cancer has a large number of victims worldwide.

The new vaccine developed by scientists has cured skin cancer in some mice.

The results of the early study proved that 60 percent of mice with melanoma on which this medicine was administered were cured in a period of less than ninety days with very few side effects.

This vaccine for skin cancer was prepared with a combination of human DNA from melanoma cells and a cousin of the rabies virus named vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). The treatment called as cancer immunotherapy employed genetically engineered version of VSV, which is without symptom in humans, to help target the cancer genes in the body.

Cancer can conceal itself from a normal immune system, but the introduction of an outside virus can help find the cancer cells. When the proteins from melanoma skin cancer cells were expressed through the VSV, the immune system became able to find the cancer cells and create T-cell antibodies to target and destruct these cancer causing cells.

With arrival of this new technique it is easy to identify a completely new set of genes that can stimulate the immune system to discard cancer cells, says study.

"One of the major problems in patients with melanoma and several other types of cancer is that cancer grows over long periods of time, and the immune system becomes subverted by the cancer - so it no longer sees cancer cells as something that should be rejected or fought off," Dr Richard Vile, a Mayo Clinic researcher in the Department of Molecular Medicine and a co-author of the study, has been quoted as saying to fox news.

"In contrast, with viruses or bacteria, the immune system works very well against invading agents - so by associating the proteins from cancer cells and expressing them through viruses, the immune system sees the cancer cells as foreign and invading pathogens," he further added.
He said that the treatment basically reoriented the immune system, rather than altering the existing cancer in the body.

"We didn't have to get to the tumour itself... One of the attractions of using the immune system is that it can patrol the whole body to find metastatic disease in the liver, lung and other areas, as opposed to merely being a local therapy," he added.

The treatment even brought good results in mice with systemic disease, where the cancer had spread throughout their bodies, Vile said.

The journal Nature Biotechnology has published this study.

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