Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vaccine To Prevent Colon Cancer Being Tested In Patients

Date:
March 25, 2009
Source:
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Summary:
Researchers have begun testing a vaccine that might be able to prevent colon cancer in people at high risk for developing the disease. If shown to be effective, it might spare patients the risk and inconvenience of repeated invasive surveillance tests, such as colonoscopy, that are now necessary to spot and remove precancerous polyps.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have begun testing a vaccine that might be able to prevent colon cancer in people at high risk for developing the disease. If shown to be effective, it might spare patients the risk and inconvenience of repeated invasive surveillance tests, such as colonoscopy, that are now necessary to spot and remove precancerous polyps.

Colon cancer takes years to develop and typically starts with a polyp, which is a benign but abnormal growth in the intestinal lining, explained principal investigator Robert E. Schoen, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Polyps that could become cancerous are called adenomas.

In a novel approach for cancer prevention, the Pitt vaccine is directed against an abnormal variant of a self-made cell protein called MUC1, which is altered and produced in excess in advanced adenomas and cancer. Vaccines currently in use to prevent cancer work via a different mechanism, specifically by blocking infection with viruses that are linked with cancer. For example, Gardasil protects against human papilloma virus associated with cervical cancer and hepatitis B vaccine protects against liver cancer.

"By stimulating an immune response against the MUC1 protein in these precancerous growths, we may be able to draw the immune system's fire to attack and destroy the abnormal cells," Dr. Schoen said. "That might not only prevent progression to cancer, but even polyp recurrence."

According to co-investigator Olivera Finn, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Immunology at Pitt's School of Medicine, MUC1 vaccines have been tested for safety and immunogenicity in patients with late-stage colon cancer and pancreatic cancer.

"Patients were able to generate an immune response despite their cancer-weakened immune systems," she noted. "Patients with advanced adenomas are otherwise healthy and so they would be expected to generate a stronger immune response. That may be able to stop precancerous lesions from transforming into malignant tumors."

About a dozen people have received the experimental vaccine so far, and the researchers intend to enroll another 50 or so into the study. Participants must be between 40 and 70 years old and have a history of developing adenomas that are deemed advanced, meaning they are greater than or equal to 1 centimeter in size, are typed as villous or tubulovillous, or contain severely dysplastic, or abnormal, cells. After an initial dose of vaccine, the participants will get shots again two and 10 weeks later. Blood samples will be drawn to measure immune response at those time points as well as 12 weeks, 28 weeks and one year later.

People who develop advanced adenomas undergo regular surveillance with colonoscopy so that recurrent polyps, which are common, can be removed before matters get worse, Dr. Schoen said.

"Immunotherapy might be a good alternative to colonoscopy because it is noninvasive and nontoxic," he noted. "And, it could provide long-term protection."

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2008, the American Cancer Society estimated that there were more than 108,000 new cases of colon cancer, nearly 41,000 cases of rectal cancer, and almost 50,000 deaths due to both diseases.

Pitt's colon cancer vaccine is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and The Nathan S. Arenson Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Its adjuvant component, which enhances the immune system's ability to respond to the target protein, was developed and provided by Washington, D.C.-based Oncovir, Inc.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Vaccine To Prevent Colon Cancer Being Tested In Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319132927.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2009, March 25). Vaccine To Prevent Colon Cancer Being Tested In Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319132927.htm
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Vaccine To Prevent Colon Cancer Being Tested In Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319132927.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) After four months in the hospital, the first quintuplets to be born at Baylor University Medical Center head home. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) A U.S. aid worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa will be treated in a high security ward at Emory University in Atlanta. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins