UGA scientists move closer to breast cancer vaccine

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Work by researchers from Franklin College and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona is being widely reported:

Researchers from the University of Georgia and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona have developed a vaccine that dramatically reduces tumors in a mouse model that mimics 90 percent of human breast and pancreatic cancer cases—including those resistant to common treatments.

The vaccine, described this week in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals a promising new strategy for treating cancers that share the same distinct carbohydrate signature, including ovarian and colorectal cancers.

“This vaccine elicits a very strong immune response,” said study co-senior author Geert-Jan Boons, Franklin Professor of Chemistry and a researcher in the UGA Cancer Center and its Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. “It activates all three components of the immune system to reduce tumor size by an average of 80 percent.”

Boons and colleagues are currently testing the vaccine's effectiveness against human cancer cells and assessing its toxicity. If these results are positive, clinical trials could began as early as 2013.

The vaccine represents nearly a decade of work by Boons and his team, with the research funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Mayo Breast Specialized Program of Research Excellence Grant and the Mayo SPORE Grant.

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