Cancer breakthrough? Stanford researchers say new vaccine eliminates tumors in mice

A new cancer treatment experiment at Stanford University to target tumors in mice had remarkably exciting results, researchers said.

Scientists at Stanford University developed a cancer 'vaccine' made from two immune-boosting agents that can completely eliminate all traces of cancer in mice that were genetically modified to develop a variety of different tumors. Of the 90 mice tested in the study, 87 were cancer-free after only one treatment. Although three of the mice later showed a recurrence, after a second treatment they were also cured, according to a Stanford Medicine press release.

"When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body," senior author of the study, Dr. Ronald Levy told the Stanford Medicine News Center. "This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn't require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient's immune cells."

The agents typically work by stimulating the immune cells only inside the tumor itself. The researchers said one of the agents (CpG oligonucleotide) works with nearby immune cells to amplify a receptor on the surface of T-cells. The other agent is an antibody that binds with the T-cell receptors to "lead the charge against the cancer cells." Doctors even found some of the immune cells kept on working throughout the body after killing the tumor.

One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.

"All of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice," Levy said. "Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, body-wide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal."
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