A new vaccine has been created that could offer colorectal cancer patients new hope — the therapy can stimulate the immune system, helping individuals fight off cancer cells. This is good news, as every step that we can take to help prevent cancer is a step in the right direction.
In the new study, the vaccine was given to patients before and after they underwent surgery, where they had the cancerous tumors removed from their bodies. The result? Immune cell production was stimulated by 70% in the patients who participated in the study. Since colorectal cancer, or cancer of the rectum and colon, is the second leading cause of death in both men and women — and most common in seniors — this is definitely good news. Note however, that the study was designed to look at immune response and not the prevention of death due to the cancer.
The new research, which was conducted by British researchers, was recently published in the medical journal Clinical Cancer Research. In the study, they looked at how the new vaccine, which is the first of its kind, can help stimulate TNF-alpha (a protein that’s important to the functioning of the immune system and is capable of killing off cancer cells).
The vaccine stimulates the immune response in patients with this form of cancer, helping generate T cells (or white blood cells, which are known for fighting off infections). These important cells do more than just fight off infections, they also help produce cytokines, which are a type of protein that helps kill off cancer cells.
One interesting point about this vaccine is how it was created: researchers took an antibody from a patient who survived having liver metastases from colorectal cancer for seven years, which is significant, as most patients die within a year of being diagnosed with this type of illness. The researchers cloned the antibody from this patient and developed the vaccine as a result. This antibody is known as “105AD7,” and it’s very similar to another antibody that works in much the same way, which is known as “CD55.” The researchers evaluated 105AD7 while noting how CD55 also operates in relation to the vaccine.
Let’s look at the trial. It’s the largest study of its kind that has delved into 105AD7’s ability to help boost the immune response in colorectal cancer patients. The study included 67 patients who were waiting to undergo surgery to have the primary tumor removed; they were randomly given either 100 micrograms of 105AD7 along with “BCG,” which is a bacteria that helps stimulate the immune system, or they were given no treatment. Among the participants, 28 of them had colon cancer and 39 of them had a primary tumor in the rectum.
The average age of the participants was 66. The vaccine was administered the day the study started and again two weeks later, if the participants had not yet undergone surgery. Administration of 105AD7 was continued at the three-, six-, and 12-week marks after surgery was performed.
The results in the participants taking 105AD7 showed that about 70% of them produced the protein that builds T cell production. This occurred in response to both 105AD7 and CD55. The findings showed that response to both the vaccine and the protein CD55 was significant enough to warrant more research into this avenue of cancer treatment.