It’s very far from achieved, but it’s heartening to see cancer researchers thinking about whether vaccines for some types of cancer might replace the barbaric tactic of hacking organs out of people and other creatures. That’s part of the take away message from a new article reporting on success in animals with efforts to create a vaccine that will cause the immune system to attack and destroy the blood vessels that support tumors, but will not attack other blood vessels. See J Clin Invest. 2014;124(4):1497–1511. doi:10.1172/JCI67382.
The tactic is tied to a protein known as “Tumor endothelial marker 1 (TEM1; also known as endosialin or CD248).” The protein is found on tumor blood vessels but much less so on other blood vessels. The goal is to block the formation of supporting blood vessels (angiogenesis), and to destroy existing blood vessels. It’s a new and improved version of the prior vision of anti-angiogenesis, which excited the world back in 1998 due to the work of Judah Folkman, among others.
The April 25, 2014 press release from U. Penn concludes as follows:
“The authors suggest that TEM1 may also be an excellent target as a prophylactic cancer vaccine for individuals that have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer, such as carriers of the BRCA1/2 mutations, predominant in breast and ovarian cancer. Research to develop those types of strategies is a key goal of Penn’s Basser Research Center for BRCA. As a bonafide vaccine, TEM-TT DNA vaccine generates a memory immune response, which Facciabene says is an ideal attribute for high risk populations.”