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Stem Cell Vaccine That Prevents Lung Cancer in Mice

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Source: (University of Louisville, KY)

Monday, November 13, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Nov. 13, 2006 – Vaccinating mice with embryonic stem cells appears to have prevented lung cancer in the mice, a team of researchers say.

The research team led by Dr. John Eaton, deputy director of the Brown Cancer Center, Robert Mitchell, assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine say their findings suggest that it could be possible to develop embryonic stem cell vaccines that prevent cancers in humans at high risk, such as hereditary breast and colon cancer and lung cancer caused by smoking and other environmental factors.

They presented their findings today at an international cancer symposium in Prague, Czech Republic, sponsored by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, the National Cancer Institute and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Eaton, told a news briefing that the team tested the vaccine in two ways: by implanting lung cancer cells after vaccination and by using a model of lung cancer that mimics cancer caused by smoking.

"Our results raise the exciting possibility of developing a vaccine capable of preventing the appearance of various types of cancers in humans, especially those with hereditary or environmental predispositions for developing disease," said Eaton.

However, he warned that the work was still in its very early stages and that, while the results in mice look promising, it could be some time before this approach is tested in humans.

Eaton and Mitchell found that, in the case of implanted lung cancer cells, the vaccine was consistently 80-100 percent effective in preventing tumor outgrowth. All non-vaccinated control animals developed tumors.

The researchers tried the experiment again four months after the initial vaccination and again, mice given lung cancer cells did not develop tumors, suggesting that the effect of the vaccination is long lasting. The equivalent period in a human would be more than ten years.

In a model of lung cancer development that mimics smoking, mice vaccinated after exposure to carcinogens developed almost no tumors and those few that did appear were much smaller than in non-vaccinated mice.

"Our progress over the next few years will depend, to a large extent, on whether we can attract significant funding. Our work is presently supported by a pilot grant from the Brown Cancer Center and a small grant from the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program."

SOURCE: James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Kentucky, press release.

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