PITTSBURGH, March 29 (UPI) -- U.S. medical scientists say they've discovered an experimental vaccine has the potential to delay onset of inflammatory bowel disease and resulting cancer.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said the vaccine, which protects against an abnormal protein found in some tumors, not only can delay bowel disease, but also prevent progression of it into colon cancer.
Professor Olivera Finn, the study's senior author, said people with chronic inflammatory disorders are at greater risk of developing cancer at the inflamed site. In other cases, genes that develop cancerous changes can trigger inflammation.
Finn said the vaccine produced by her team is directed against an abnormal variant of a self-made cell protein called MUC1, which is altered and produced in excess in both inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.
"Our experiments indicate that boosting the immune response against this protein early in the disease can delay IBD development, control inflammation and thereby reduce the risk of future cancers," Finn said. "These findings suggest also that the early stages of chronic inflammation might be considered a pre-malignant condition."
The study that included Pamela Beatty and Sowmya Narayanan of the University of Pittsburgh, Jean Gariepy of the University of Toronto and Dr. Sarangarajan Ranganathan of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center appears in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.