Jacinta Bowler of Science Alert reports that A new cancer vaccine involving an immunotherapy drug and a chemical that boosts its efficacy has just shown a 100% success rate in treating melanoma in mice, according to a new study. In an especially promising development, the researchers were even able to show their new therapy can fight cancer recurrence down the track, which could mean fewer relapses in the future. “This co-therapy produced a complete response – a curative response – in the treatment of melanoma,” says one of the researchers, Dale Boger, from the Scripps Research Institute in California.
“Just as a vaccine can train the body to fight off external pathogens, this vaccine trains the immune system to go after the tumour.” The researchers, from Scripps and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, first screened around 100,000 compounds to look for one that could help them boost the effectiveness of a cancer immunotherapy drug. Eventually they found a chemical called Diprovocim, which binds to an immune receptor in both humans and mice called Toll-like receptor; the next step was to start testing how this compound could aid the treatment of tumours in mice. The researchers used a group of mice with an aggressive form of melanoma genetically engineered to contain ovalbumin, a common marker researchers can use to study immune responses in cancer, since it acts as an antigen – it triggers an immune response in the host.