Oxford launches cancer vaccine trials

Oxford researchers start testing new cancer vaccine in humans (Photo: unsplash)

In the United Kingdom, the University of Oxford is administering for the first time a vaccine that could change the course of treatment for many cancers. The application, which is still in the testing phase, focuses on patients with prostate, lung, and ovarian tumors, which together account for nearly a third of disease-related deaths.

A new immunizer developed by Oxford Vacmedix, created by university researchers, directs the body’s defenses to fight a protein called survivin, which normally keeps cancer cells protected. The goal is to “teach” the body to recognize a protein that normally protects the immune system against cancer.

Newspaper Daily mail points out that although vaccines are widely considered to prevent disease, they can also be used in medicines that use the power of the immune system to treat the problem.

The new vaccine contains a synthetic form of the protein that is designed to stimulate a stronger immune response. Scientists hope this will destroy the cancer cells.

The vaccine is being tested in 35 patients

An immunizer called OVM-200 is being tested in a group of 35 cancer patients. They receive three doses every two weeks and are followed for six months for changes in the disease and possible side effects.

“Survivin is highly expressed in many cancers and is therefore a great target for treatments like this new vaccine,” said Martin Forster, a medical oncology consultant at UCL Cancer Institute and a leading researcher in this work.

“This exciting treatment developed in the UK brings new vaccine technology to clinical trials and has the potential to dramatically change the outcomes of our patients. The need is huge and we are now living in exciting times.

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