A new cancer vaccine that can potentially cure tumours could be available in a year.
After curing 97 per cent of tumours in mice, the vaccine will now be tested on humans with low-grade lymphoma later this year meaning, if approved, the medication could be available to patients in a year or two.
Not only does the jab have only a few side effects including soreness and potential fever, patients receiving the injection will not need any chemotherapy.
The jab aims to activate the immune system encouraging it to attack tumours.
Researchers believe the treatment will be effective on those with low-grade lymphoma as, unlike other forms of cancer, it is often detected by the body’s immune system.
A total of 35 patients will take place in the human trials overall as the injection will be tested across two studies.
During a six week period, each patient will receive a low dose of radiation alongside two rounds of the jab.
It is currently unclear what the time difference between the two injections will be.
Although it is delivered like one, the jab isn’t a true vaccine as it does not create lasting immunity.
Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study believes the new cancer treatment could be hugely beneficial but admitted it needs work.
He told The San Francisco Gate:
“Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer.
People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be.
The two drugs we are injecting are made by two different companies and have already been proven safe for people.
It’s the combination we are testing.
We have a huge problem in cancer and we will never be satisfied until we find solutions for everyone.”
Similar types of treatment have also been approved for certain types of leukemia and lymphoma but with these immune cells will be removed from patients’ bodies, be genetically engineered to attack tumours and then reintroduced to the body.
Known as CAR-T, this type of treatment is both labour intensive and very pricey with the drugs alone costing half a million dollars although it does raise survival rates from 10 t0 15 per cent to more than 60 per cent.
Dr Michelle Hermiston directs the paediatric immunotherapy program at UCSF which is the first hospital in California to implement this treatment.
She calls it a ‘game changer’:
“If it’s your kid, it makes a huge difference. It’s not a trivial therapy.”
Dr. Hermiston also believes more research should be carried out to conclude how the new cancer vaccine will help the body detect tumours.
“Can we make the tumour more visible to the immune system? We are at the tip of the iceberg right now.”
If the human trials for the new vaccine are successful, it could potentially save thousands of lives.
by EMILY MURRAY