New Cancer Vaccine Trains Immune System to Fight Disease

A new double-action vaccine developed by a team of researchers has shown great promise in the treatment of brain cancer, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday (01.04.2023). The vaccine uses a novel approach that combines the use of living tumor cells, which have been manipulated using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tools, and an agent that kills cancer cells to not only cure the cancer but also prevent its recurrence in the long term.

Lead study author Khalid Shah of Harvard believes the idea of reusing cancer cells as cancer killers and vaccines to be a simple yet applicable one with potential to produce long-term success: “Through genetic engineering, we are reusing cancer cells to develop a therapy that kills tumor cells and stimulates the immune system,” he said.

The use of active cells sets this approach apart from traditional still-cell tumor therapies. In this case, the cells were tracked as they spread throughout the body, allowing the unique opportunity to alter them with the CRISPR-Cas9 system and release an agent that could identify new cancer cells that appear and alert the immune system. This long-term approach will develop a stronger response against the tumor and eventually lead to a lasting impact on medicine.

Testing on mice models designed to match the human immune microenvironment, the vaccine has been declared safe and effective, but further testing and development is necessary to determine its effectiveness in humans. Once ready, Shah and his team hope to carry out patient testing as they work towards delivering a therapeutic cancer vaccine.

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