Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic join forces to develop cancer vaccine

PHOENIX -Two major research organizations in the Phoenix area have announced they will collaborate on an ambitious goal: creating a vaccine to prevent the development of cancer. Researchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe and Mayo Clinic will use the latest developments in laboratory and clinical sciences to reach their goal - finding components in cancer that could be used to vaccinate against the occurrence of the disease.

There is even the hope that some of these unique components could be shared among different types of cancer and lead to broad protection from multiple tumors.

"This is a bold, unconventional approach backed by promising science," said Michael Tracy, deputy director of the Biodesign Institute.

Research led by Stephen Albert Johnston, who directs the institute's Center for Innovations in Medicine, suggests there may be common themes in the protein signatures that tumors produce, Tracy explained.

At the root of most cancers is a single cell going awry and dividing uncontrollably, producing a tumor. As cells become cancerous, they produce proteins that are unfamiliar to the human immune system, which should prompt a protective response from the body. Yet somehow, these stealth proteins evade the body's defenses and allow the cells to grow into a tumor.

In results from animal studies, pre-vaccination with these foreign proteins creates an immune response that prevents the tumor from forming. Unfortunately, each tumor's protein signature can be slightly different. In other words, even if two individuals have the same type of cancer, their tumors may be slightly different, and therefore the concept of a widespread preventative vaccine that would be effective in large numbers of people has been a daunting task. However, if common themes could be identified, it could provide a means for solving this problem.

"This idea of identifying signatures uni

Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
Arizona State University

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