A team at the National Center for Tumor Diseases have developed a promising new brain cancer vaccine that stops tumors in their tracks.
Specifically targeting a protein commonly found in various brain cancers, the vaccine has been observed triggering autoimmune responses in mice. The hope is that the vaccine will be able to be used to treat cancer in humans, as the vaccine also stops tumor progression.
Mutation within gene IDH1 is responsible for the early events that lead to a number of brain tumors. While some patients immune systems naturally fight back against the disease via an MHC Class II response (it acts as a red flag of sorts for the immune system), their immune system is not enough to stop the growth of the tumors. However, by replacing the MHC molecules in mice with human MHC, researchers were able to mimic what might happen in humans when presented with an IDH1 triggered tumor.
“After vaccinating the animals with the peptide, we were able to detect immune cells and antibodies that specifically recognized the altered IDH1 of tumor cells rather than the normal form of the enzyme in healthy cells,” lead author Theresa Schumacher said. More so, the response was enough to stop the growth of the IDH1 cancer cells in the mice, and did not affect the normal IDH1 protein.
Though it is still too early to tell if the vaccine will be successful in humans, the researchers are luckily planning a human trial as early as next year. If all goes well, the vaccine will be able to successfully treat up to 30% of all brain tumors. With roughly 25% of people in North America expected to die from one form of cancer or another, the sooner we have a way to combat it, the better off we will all be.