Scripps Research Institute group designs DNA vaccine that inhibits growth of cancerous tumors

A group of researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed a novel DNA vaccine that helps the body resist the growth of cancerous tumors by choking off the tumors' blood supply.

"We stimulate the immune system to recognize proliferating blood vessels in the tumor vasculature and to recruit killer T cells to destroy these vessels," explains TSRI Immunology Professor Ralph Reisfeld, Ph.D., who conducted the study with Research Associate Andreas G. Niethammer, M.D., and others. "Deprived of its blood supply, the tumor [eventually dies]."

Niethammer, Reisfeld, and their collaborators describe their successful pre-clinical studies with the vaccine in an article to be published next month in the journal Nature Medicine.

Though not yet tested in humans, their vaccine has the potential to treat many types of cancer, and it may provide a new strategy for the rational design of cancer therapies.

Two Approaches to Treating Cancer

Cancer is not a single disease, but rather over a hundred diseases caused by various sorts of mutations inside various cells in various tissues. Some mutations upregulate genes, increasing the expression of metalloproteinases for instance; others downregulate them, shutting off production of receptor proteins.

After certain mutations occur, a cancer cell grows out of control, dividing over and over and forming a solid tumor. Cancer tumors often damage the tissues where they are located and some can metastasize and migrate through the bloodstream--the malignant carcinoma that claims so many lives every year.

In recent years, some novel approaches to treating cancer have generated interest in scientific circles and society at large.

One of these approaches to is to try to block the process of angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that bring necessary nutrients and oxygen to the hungry tumor cells. Block angiogenesis, the thinking goes, and you can

Contact: Keith McKeown
Scripps Research Institute

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