New cancer vaccine could help fight tumors

New treatment could signal immune system to attack and kill cancer cells.
By Brooks Hays  |  Feb. 27, 2014 at 3:03 PM
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CINCINNATI, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Researchers have developed a vaccine that boosts the response of the body's immune system toward enemy tumor cells.

The vaccine, developed by researchers at the Cincinnati Cancer Center and the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute, consists of manipulated tumor cells designed to produce interleukin-15 (or IL-15) and IL-15R alpha.

IL-15 is a protein, naturally occurring in humans, that encourages a cell-killing response from the human immune system. IL-15R alpha is the protein's receptor.

Researchers found that when the vaccine was given to mice, breast and prostate tumor cell growth was slowed and survival rates increased -- the protein and receptor effectively making their way to the tumor cells and signaling the immune system to "sic 'em."

“We showed that the presence of both IL-15 with its receptor IL-15R alpha increased the cell-surface production and secretion of IL-15, and in turn, stopped tumor cells from reproducing,” Dr. John Morris, the study’s principal investigator, said in news release. "Additionally, this provides evidence needed to begin investigating a vaccine in human cancer clinical trials to determine whether genetically modified tumor cells producing IL-15 and IL-15Rα may induce anti-cancer responses."

The vaccine has been approved for clinical trials in humans battling melanoma, a type of skin cancer, as well as renal cancer, or cancer of the kidneys.

Details of the vaccine study were published Thursday in the journal Gene Therapy.

[University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center] [Gene Therapy]

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