Hopes high for cancer vaccine

Colorectal cancer is any type of cancer that affects the rectum and colon, and includes bowel cancer, rectal cancer and colon cancer.

A team of US researchers from Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University has developed a new colorectal cancer vaccine – and the results look promising.

The results from a phase one clinical trial suggest that the vaccine is safe and activates immune cells.

Ten individuals with stage one or two colon cancer were given the vaccine and had bloodwork done 30, 90 and 180 days after the administration.

GUCY2C is a marker molecule found on colorectal tumours. It was paired with another molecule that enhances our natural immune response in the hopes of increasing the body’s ability to locate and kill cancerous cells. Other than discomfort when initially given the vaccine, no participants reported any serious side-effects.

The director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Centre at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, Dr Karen E. Knudsen, has told Medical News Today that “this pivotal study provides some of the first evidence that it may be possible to safely direct a patient’s own immune system to seek and destroy this cancer type. This is a true milestone – made possible through the scientists and clinicians in our colorectal cancer team working in synchrony.”

Other cancers, including pancreatic, oesophageal and gastric, also express the GUCY2C molecule. Including colorectal cancer, these diseases are responsible for one-fifth of all cancer related deaths.

As participants showed a lack of serious side-effects, and their blood results showed an increase in killer T-cell activation, researchers at Jefferson are preparing for phase two of the trial.

Other research involving people diagnosed with colorectal cancer has shown that maintaining a high level of fitness can decrease the risk of death by 89 per cent. So, if possible, stay active exercising while we wait for researchers to conduct further studies.

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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