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Scientists developing vaccine for cancer

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[World News] London, April 1 : A new cancer vaccine that can be used for mass immunisation against the killer disease is being developed in Scotland.

Early experiments have shown that the vaccine, in the form of a pill, produces a far greater immune response than traditional vaccines for certain diseases, the Scottish daily Scotsman reported.

These have been developed at the Moredun Research Institute at Penicuik near Edinburgh.

Trials of the vaccine are due to start against lung cancer in sheep. Human trials would start "within a year or two", said John March, a Moredun researcher.

The scientists are planning to set up a spin-off company this year to exploit the vast commercial potential of what they hope would be an effective treatment for cancer -- and could eventually be used to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

March said the new type of vaccine used a bacterial virus.

The virus does no harm to humans but acts as a "container" to deliver DNA of cancerous cells or dangerous viruses into the human body, he said.

According to the Moredun research, this would trigger a response by the body's immune system, which otherwise fails to attack cancer since it is made up of cells from the patient's body.

In addition, the viruses mass-produce themselves, meaning they would be cheap to make, allowing for the vaccination of the general population.

And as the virus container protects the vaccine, it could be administered in pill form rather than as an injection.

"There are cancer vaccines that have been tested, but don't work very well because it is difficult to produce the actual cancer material. But all we need is DNA. We put it in a bacterial virus and it will then replicate itself," March said.

"Potentially, it gives us the opportunity to make cancer vaccines relatively cheaply and, hopefully, cancer vaccines that would work a lot better."

If tests on mice and sheep over the next few weeks prove successful, March would seek to obtain permission from the authorities to test the vaccine on humans.

"We could trial it within a year or two," he said.

--Indo-Asian News Service

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