Jab for prostate cancer, tomato cure for stomach tumour?
*Breast milk contains substance nicknamed Hamlet that can kill disease cells
Scientists have unveiled a vaccine that could stop prostate cancer in its tracks. The vaccine treats the disease by stimulating the immune system to kill cancer cells.
The scientists found the jab, stopped tumours from spreading for 77 per cent of cancer patients in a clinical trial. And 45 per cent of patients experienced tumour shrinkage after receiving the vaccine, according to the new research.
The research was published in Cancer Immunology.
The scientists from the Norwegian Radium Hospital said in a research paper: “At the end of the nine-month reporting period for the study, 17 patients had clinically stable disease.”
As part of the study, 22 men with prostate cancer were recruited to take part in a Phase I clinical trial. Phase I trails are the first step in developing a new treatment and are undertaken to find out if drugs can cause cancers to shrink, according to Cancer Research UK.
The new vaccine works by stimulating the body's own immune system to fight cancer, in a type of treatment known as immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy has offered promise for new treatments because it does not carry the harsh side effects of traditional therapies such as chemo and radiotherapy.
It is not yet known when the vaccine could be available to the public, but it typically takes 10 to 15 years for drugs to pass through all clinical trial phases.
Also, researchers suggest in a new report that the use of tomato should be explored to develop supportive strategies against gastric cancer.
A new study shows that whole tomato extracts from two different Southern Italy cultivars inhibit gastric cancer cell growth and malignant features, paving the way for future studies aimed at implementing lifestyle habits not only for prevention, but also potentially as a support to conventional therapies.
"Their antitumoral effect seem not related to specific components, such as lycopene, but rather suggest that tomatoes should be considered in their entirety," says Daniela Barone, researcher at the Oncology Research Center of Mercogliano (CROM), and one of the authors of the study.
Experiments analyzed whole tomato lipophilic extracts for their ability to tackle various neoplastic features of gastric cancer cell lines. Extracts of both the San Marzano and Corbarino tomato varieties were able to inhibit the growth and cloning behavior of malignant cells. Treatment with the whole tomato extracts affected key processes within the cells hindering their migration ability, arresting cell cycle through the modulation of retinoblastoma family proteins and specific cell cycle inhibitors, and ultimately inducing cancer cell death through apoptosis.
The study, published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, details findings by Daniela Barone and Letizia Cito, from the research group directed by Prof. Antonio Giordano at the National Cancer Institute of Naples, Pascale Foundation, CROM.
Also, breast milk is being used to fight cancer after scientists accidentally discovered it contains a substance that kills tumour cells.
Trials in patients with bladder cancer have already yielded promising results and researchers believe the compound breast milk contains – nicknamed Hamlet – will also help tackle bowel cancer and cervical cancer.
They also say it homes in on cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed – so it has none of the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.
Professor Catharina Svanborg, who made the initial discovery, said last night: “There’s something magical about Hamlet’s ability to target tumour cells and kill them.”
She said human breast milk contained a protein called alpha-lactalbumin, which is transformed into a cancer-fighting agent when in the gut.
Svanborg, an immunologist at Lund University in Sweden, made the chance discovery that the substance kills tumour cells when working on antibiotics.
The substance attacks cancer cells in numerous ways – first evading the cell’s outer defences, then targeting the ‘power station’ mitochondria and the ‘instruction manual’ nucleus. These actions cut off the cell’s energy source and ‘programme’ it to commit suicide, in a process called apoptosis.
Early trials in patients with bladder cancer show those injected with Hamlet start shedding dead tumour cells in their urine within days.
A full-scale trial-pitting Hamlet against a placebo ‘dummy drug’ is now planned.
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among males, affecting one in eight men in the United Kingdom (UK) and one in seven in the United States (US).
Prostate cancer usually develops slowly and often produces no signs for many years. The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis that is only in men. It helps to produce semen. Symptoms tend to appear when the gland becomes so large that it affects the tube that carries urine to the penis. This may cause an increased need to urinate, straining while urinating or feeling the bladder is not empty. The risk increases with age and those with family members who have suffered.