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Hong Kong Researchers Claim that Vaccine Provides Mesothelioma Cure

It is not often that researchers studying mesothelioma treatments use the word “cure,” but that is exactly what a group from Hong Kong are doing following a recently-completed study. A group of microbiologists from the University of Hong Kong have published a paper in the journal Cancer Research in which they claim that they have successfully eradicated mesothelioma in laboratory mice using a vaccine.

The study’s lead author is Dr. Zhiwu Tan of the AIDS Institute of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong. Basing their activity on the knowledge that asbestos-induced mesothelioma spreads, in the same way that other types of cancer do, by turning off the body’s natural immune response, the team created a vaccine that was based on a protein called PD-1. PD-1 is short for “programmed cell death protein 1”, and it effectively reprograms DNA to turn the cancer-fighting defenses of the immune system back on. By injecting the mice with a vaccine made up of the protein, the group was able to effect “complete and long-lasting protection” against “lethal mesothelioma challenge” in lab animals with mesothelioma.

Additionally, Dr. Tan indicated that the vaccine was found to have more beneficial impacts. “Furthermore, it remained highly immunogenic in tumor-bearing animals and led to therapeutic core of pre-existing mesothelioma.” A closer analysis of the actions that the vaccine seemed to have reveals that it stimulated the production of CD8+T cells, cells that fight cancer. The researchers found that the higher the dose of vaccine that was given, the more effective the protection that it provided against mesothelioma cells, and they hope that in addition to fighting this rare and lethal form of cancer it will be equally effective against other forms of cancer as well. “Our results provide new insights into quantitative and qualitative requirements of vaccine-elicited functional CD8+T cells in cancer prevention and immunotherapy,” said Dr. Tan.

The search for a cure for mesothelioma has been going on for decades. The disease is extremely rare, and is caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral that was widely used in the United States through the 1980s, and which continues to be mined and utilized in many countries around the world today. Mesothelioma kills approximately 3,500 people in the United States every year, and though treatments have grown increasingly effective, the disease has no known cure up to this point. The research from the Hong Kong group is extremely promising.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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