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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Early Cancer Vaccine Results Promising

Immune Responses Seen in People With Colorectal Cancer
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 16, 2006 -- An experimental colorectal cancer vaccine designed to enlist the immune system in killing tumor cells is showing promise in an early clinical trial.

British researchers developed the vaccine from antibodies cloned from a patient with advanced colorectal cancer who survived many years longer than expected.

When given to 67 colorectal cancer patients (average age 66) the vaccine stimulated immune responses in 70%, researchers say.

The findings are published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

"This is the first vaccine shown to stimulate TNF-alpha -- an immune-system protein that is very effective at killing cancer cells," says immunologist Lindy Durrant, PhD, who developed the vaccine.

Nov. 16, 2006 -- An experimental colorectal cancer vaccine designed to enlist the immune system in killing tumor cells is showing promise in an early clinical trial.

British researchers developed the vaccine from antibodies cloned from a patient with advanced colorectal cancer who survived many years longer than expected.

When given to 67 colorectal cancer patients (average age 66) the vaccine stimulated immune responses in 70%, researchers say.

The findings are published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

"This is the first vaccine shown to stimulate TNF-alpha -- an immune-system protein that is very effective at killing cancer cells," says immunologist Lindy Durrant, PhD, who developed the vaccine.

Broken Promises

Once one of the most promising fields in cancer research, vaccines designed to treat patients with existing cancers have been slow to emerge.

Despite several decades of study, none has been proven to prolong the lives of cancer patients.

Durrant, who is a professor at the University of Nottingham in England, tells WebMD that she has been working on the colorectal cancer vaccine for about 10 years.

The vaccine is designed to work by stimulating the production of immune cells called T-cells, which in turn produce immune system proteins called cytokines that destroy cancer cells.

Because cancer cells are so slow to grow, the body does not usually recognize them as a threat and does not mount an immune response to them.

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