Vaccine Boosts Immune System Response to Cancer

March
2018

Cancer can be difficult to treat because its highly proliferative cells spread throughout the body, effectively evading the immune system’s surveillance. One opportunity that scientists are pursuing for cancer treatment involves “reactivating” the patient’s immune system.

A team of researchers from Stanford Univ. has created a vaccine made from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that triggers immune response against breast, lung, and skin cancers.

Previous studies proved that embryonic stem cells (ESCs) share both tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) and tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) with cancer cells. Scientists theorized that ESCs could be used as immunization agents to help a patient’s T-cells recognize cancer cells, which would then signal the patient’s immune system to respond and fight back against the cancer cells. However, the ethical challenges surrounding ESCs has prevented scientists from studying these cells for anti-tumor applications.

Induced pluripotent stem cells avoid these ethical hurdles because they can be created from a patient’s own tissues, but they share the same surface markers as ESCs. The Stanford Univ. team created a series of vaccines using iPSCs to counteract various types of cancer, and proved that this...

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