Vaccine for prostate cancer designed
*Breakthrough drug boosts immune system’s ability to track down, kill deadly cells as soon as they appear
A vaccine could one day protect men from developing prostate cancer, thanks to a breakthrough by British scientists.Experts have designed a vaccine that boosts the immune system’s ability to track down and kill the cancer cells as soon as they start to appear.
The research is at an early stage, but scientists from Queen’s University Belfast believe their findings could be used to vaccinate young men against getting prostate cancer. It could also be used as a treatment for men who already have the cancer, because it would enable the body to kill off tumours.The new vaccine will use Ribo Nucleic Acid (RNA) – a genetic messenger which teaches the immune system to recognise prostate cancer cells and hunt them down. The Queen’s researchers have shown it works in the lab and are embarking on a three-year trial on mice, after which they hope to test the vaccine on humans.
Scientists have been testing RNA vaccines for prostate cancer for several years, but have been struggling to work out how to deliver them to the immune system.Part of the problem is that if RNA is simply injected into the bloodstream, it dissipates throughout the body and is quickly broken down before it reaches the cells of the immune system.
The Belfast researchers believe they have overcome this hurdle by inventing a new delivery mechanism.They combined the RNA with a peptide – a tough string of sugars – which means the vaccine can survive unharmed inside the body. And instead of injecting it into the bloodstream, it is inserted into the outer layers of the skin using a half-inch square plaster of tiny dissolvable micro-needles.
Project leader Professor Helen McCarthy told the Journal of Controlled Release: “What is particularly exciting about this is that we are doing it by understanding the barriers for the delivery of messenger RNA. That will mean it is much more effective.”She added: “The first time I saw this work, I didn’t believe it. This new vaccine has tremendous potential.”
*Adapted from DailyMailUK Online
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