Promising candidate protein for cancer prevention vaccines found

Aug 04, 2009

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have learned that some healthy people naturally developed an immune response against a protein that is made in excess levels in many cancers, including breast, lung, and head and neck cancers. The finding suggests that a vaccine against the protein might prevent malignancies in high-risk individuals.

Mice that were vaccinated to boost their immune response against this cell cycle protein, called cyclin B1, were able to reject a tumor challenge in which they were exposed to a cancer cell line that overproduced it, explained senior author Olivera Finn, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Immunology at the Pitt School of Medicine. The results are reported this week in the online version of the .

"Cyclin B1 is known to be produced in excess amounts in several kinds of cancer," she said. "While we were studying it, we noted that many healthy people already had an immune response, or antibodies, against the protein, even though they'd never had cancer."

According to the researchers, the immune response most likely developed during a childhood viral infection, when inflammatory responses are strong. Cells infected with chicken pox virus, for example, look very much like tumor cells because they, too, overproduce cyclin B1. The virus actually packages the host protein, which ultimately gets shown to the immune system as a marker of infected cells that must be destroyed.

"Because cyclin B1 is a 'self' protein, there have been concerns that boosting the immune response against it would produce autoimmunity and create new problems," Dr. Finn said. "But now that we know that perhaps 20 to 30 percent of people already recognize it as abnormal when made in excess, we can be more confident about the safety of a vaccine strategy to immunize high-risk groups against it."

She is working with collaborators to open, by the end of the year, a clinical trial of a cyclin B1 treatment vaccine in lung cancer patients, and she plans to assess it in the future as a prevention strategy in patients with pre-malignant lung lesions.

Natural immunity to other tumor-specific proteins has been found before, Dr. Finn noted. Her team developed a vaccine to boost response against MUC1, a that is abnormally produced in colon cancer and in precancerous polyps. The MUC1 colon cancer prevention vaccine is being tested in a clinical trial led by colleagues at UPMC.

"In previous work, we found that women who developed an to MUC1, typically after pelvic surgery, mumps or mastitis, have a much lower risk for ovarian cancer," Dr. Finn said. "Cyclin B1 and MUC1 are part of a big family of self-proteins that become over-produced during development, so they have great potential as targets in prevention vaccines."

Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences (news : web)

Explore further: AstraZeneca cancer drug, companion test approved

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vaccine to prevent colon cancer being tested in patients

Mar 19, 2009

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have begun testing a vaccine that might be able to prevent colon cancer in people at high risk for developing the disease. If shown to be effective, it might ...

Chemotherapy might help cancer vaccines work

May 16, 2008

Chemotherapy given in conjunction with cancer vaccines may boost the immune system’s response, potentially improving the effectiveness of this promising type of cancer therapy, according to a study by researchers in the ...

Researchers one step closer to elusive cancer vaccine

Oct 29, 2007

When cells become cancerous, the sugars on their surfaces undergo distinct changes that set them apart from healthy cells. For decades, scientists have tried to exploit these differences by training the immune system to attack ...

Cancer vaccine may be possibility

Feb 24, 2006

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center are working on a vaccine to prevent cancer.

Recommended for you

Putting the brakes on cancer

Dec 19, 2014

A study led by the University of Dundee, in collaboration with researchers at our University, has uncovered an important role played by a tumour suppressor gene, helping scientists to better understand how ...

Peanut component linked to cancer spread

Dec 19, 2014

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and survival of cancer cells in the body.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

the_collater
not rated yet Aug 04, 2009
"..the immune response most likely developed during a childhood viral infection..chickenpox virus,for example.."
Bearing in mind the ongoing furore about the benefits and draw-backs of the combined MMR vaccine,could we find ourselves in the situation where saving a very few children from an early death now results in an epidemic of malignant cancers in the future,cancers which could have been picked up and dealt with by a fully tuned immune system?
stonehat
not rated yet Aug 05, 2009
IF the claimed link between MMR and Autism was the "furore" to which you refer, then please be informed that the link data was faked:

http://www.timeso...3671.ece

Hopefully anyone involved in promoting that scare has apologised to all the people who suffered needlessly as a result of their pseudoscience.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.