Universal cancer vaccine on horizon after genetic breakthrough

Universal cancer vaccine on horizon after genetic breakthrough, by Sarah Knapton.

A universal cancer vaccine is on the horizon after scientists discovered how to rewire immune cells to fight any type of disease.

The potential new therapy involves injecting tiny particles of genetic code into the body which travel to the immune cells and teach them to recognize specific cancers.

Although scientists have shown previously that is it is possible to engineer immune cells outside the body so they can spot cancer it is the first time it has happened inside cells.

And because the genetic code could be programmed for any cancer, it means the technique could be universal. All doctors would need is the genetic profile of the tumor to make a custom-made vaccine which as well as fighting the disease, would prevent it ever returning.

“The vaccines are fast and inexpensive to produce, and virtually any tumour antigen can be encoded by RNA,” said lead author Prof Ugur Sahin, managing director of Translational Oncology at the University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.

“The approach introduced here may be regarded as a universally applicable novel vaccine class for cancer immunotherapy.”

hat-tip Matthew