Scientists have managed to rid mice of cancerous tumors by injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into the masses. The ‘cancer vaccine’ was able to treat multiple types of cancer including untreated metastases. According to the study, published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, the process can even treat types of cancer that develop spontaneously.
Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine believe this approach can serve as an inexpensive cancer therapy that won’t cause any physical side effects associated with other current treatments.
“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology.
One agent has been approved for use in humans while the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials.
According to Dr. Levy, the two agents stimulate the body’s immune cells which are normally inhibited by cancer. By forcing the immune cells to “do their job” they would successfully eradicate the tumor and the disease altogether.
Researchers believe that the cancer vaccine is so efficient due to its delivery method. The agents are injected directly into the tumor in small doses, thus the side effects would be minimal, they claim. By injecting the two agents directly into the tumor, the vaccine only stimulates the immune cells who have already fought against that type of cancer.
While the results are nothing short of groundbreaking, there are people in the scientific community who are skeptical about the approach. One such person is deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, who acknowledged the trial’s effectiveness. However, he remains skeptical if the same results can be translated to humans.
Levy and his team explained that as cancer begins to develop, the body’s immune system goes on full alert and sends cells to destroy the cancer cells. However, as the tumor grows, the cancer cells begin to adapt and suppress the immune system, granting them the ability to spread throughout the body.
According to Dr. Levy, the two agents work in different ways. One stimulates the immune system’s cells to be more effective and instructs them to call for reinforcements, while the other agents prompt the immune cells to multiply and disperse.
The researchers said that a small human trial including 15 people with lymphoma will start soon.
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