Prague, Czech Republic: Researchers in America have discovered that vaccinating mice with embryonic stem cells prevented lung cancer in those animals that had had cancer cells transplanted into them after the vaccination or that had been exposed to cancer-causing chemicals.
The findings suggest that it could be possible to develop embryonic stem cell vaccines that prevent cancers in humans, such as hereditary breast and colon cancer and lung cancer caused by smoking or other environmental factors.
Professor John Eaton told a news briefing at the EORTC-NCI-AACR  Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Prague today (Wednesday 8 November): "We found that the vaccinations were between 80-100% effective in preventing tumour growth in mice that were subsequently challenged with transplanted Lewis lung carcinoma, and it was between 60-90% effective in mice subsequently exposed to carcinogens that cause lung cancer.
"Our results raise the exciting possibility of developing a prophylactic vaccine capable of preventing the appearance of various types of cancers in humans, especially those with hereditary, chronological or environmental predispositions to neoplastic disease."
However, he warned that the work was still in its early stages and that people should not think that, for instance, they could start, or carry on, smoking because a vaccine to prevent lung cancer was just around the corner.
"Cancer has been prevented and even cured in mice hundreds of times. At present, all I can say is that so far it looks good, and that, unless something unexpected happens, this strategy might some day be applied to humans at high risk for development of cancer. The likelihood of this happening is more a question for the US Food and Drug Agency than for us. Given their stringent regulations I consider it quite likely that, by the time this is tried in humans, I will be pushing up daisies."
Contact: Emma Mason
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer