Stem cells have been cause for great hope and excitement in the treatment of a variety of injuries and illnesses. Now, a group of researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine believe they can form the basis of a vaccine that can effectively prevent the growth of the malignant mesothelioma tumors.
A recently published study details how stem cells were drawn from laboratory mice that had a variety of cancer types, genetically altered and reintroduced to provide a positive and effective immune response.
The study looked at the effectiveness of the stem cell vaccines against breast cancer, melanoma and mesothelioma, and was based on the theory that stem cells have similar properties to cancer cells.
By removing the stem cells, reprogramming them, then reintroducing them, the scientists were able to create an immune response in which the stem cells attacked the host’s cancer cells or prevented the growth of new tumors.
Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, director of Stanford’s Cardiovascular institute said, “When we immunized an animal with genetically matching iPS cells, the immune system could be primed to reject the development of tumors in the future. Pending replication in humans, our findings indicate these cells may one day serve as a true patient-specific cancer vaccine.”
Though the stem cell approach was equally effective in all three types of cancer that it was tested against, the researchers believe that their discovery will have special importance for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. This is because of the particular challenges in treating the rare form of cancer, as well as the disease’s current prognosis.
It will be a while before the approach is generally available, as the next step will be to test it on human cancers in the laboratory. Still, Dr. Wu believes that the simplicity of the approach may help to expedite its availability.
“We would take your blood, make IPS cells, and then inject the cells to prevent future cancers. I’m excited about future possibilities.”
The notion that a cure for mesothelioma could be so close at hand is extremely exciting, especially for those who have been affected by this challenging form of cancer. If you need information about other resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.