This cancer vaccine

Yes, yes, all very new, no knowledge yet of whether it will work in humans etc. Yet:

The vaccine would not be administered as a prevention in advance but only when cancer is identified in a patient, he said.

For which there\’s a good reason:

The team found a protein known as FAP (fibroblast activation protein alpha) stops the body\’s immune system from attacking the rogue cancer cells.

FAP is found in stromal cells – a kind of tissue cell that usually races to the scene of a wound to aid healing.

The cancer tricks the body into thinking it is an injury and instead of destroying the tumours it actually nurtures them.

This process restricts the use of vaccines and other treatments which rely on the body\’s immune system to work, according to the team whose finding is published in Science.

But researchers have found that by turning off FAP allows the body to naturally destroy the tumours.

If the tumours mimic wounds which are healing and the way to attack the tumors is to stop the trickery that allows wounds to heal: well, you\’d better make sure that no one you give the vacine to has wounds that need healing.

It\’s analagous to (and no, only an analogy, not directly the same) inducing haemophilia say: something we do infact do with judicous doses of warfarin at times. It would mean that for whatever period the vaccine is in use the individual would have to make sure they received no wounds: and it\’s surprising how many little bumps and scrapes we do get in the course of normal life. Any of which, if not cleaned up by this healing process, could themselves lead to death.

Gonna be an interesting treatment, eh?

2 thoughts on “This cancer vaccine”

  1. You’ve echoed my own snap reaction there, but compared to chemo or radiotherapy, wrapping yourself in cotton wool for a while seems a small price to pay.

  2. Cancer vaccines are not really new (although the particular antigen targeted may be). I participated in a TROVAX clinical trial about 3 years ago. TROVAX targeted the 5T4 antigen. That trial was halted for reasons never fully explained although the gist seemed to be that it was not showing acceptable levels of effectiveness. Adverse side effects did not seem to be an issue.

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