A vaccine to treat cancer? It may seem unlikely, but recent results have shown that a single vaccine may be ale to combat many different kinds of cancer.
In order to fight cancer, the immune system must be first be aware that abnormal cells are present. Fortunately, many different cancers have identifying markers that can be recognized to target them. One marker is the Wilm's Tumor (WT1) protein. Too much WT1 can mark a cell as abnormal.
For patients whose tumors have too much WT1, it is possible to 'show' the protein to immune cells so that they will recognize and kill the cancer cells. Researchers in Australia have done just that. They combined WT1 with another protein that makes the WT1 stick to immune cells. Once the cells 'see' the WT1, they should recognize and kill cancer cells with too much WT1.
The research used mice that were changed to have human immune cells. The vaccine was able to get the immune cells geared up to fight cancer. The work is very encouraging and is moving forward.