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Solid cryogel vaccine cures and protects against blood cancer in mice

Date: 17.1.2020 

For today’s sufferers of the blood cancer acute myeloid leukemia (AML), standard chemotherapy remains the most common course of treatment, but the risk of recurrence is high and occurs in almost half of patients.

Kredit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University.In search of therapies that can offer longer-term protection, scientists at Harvard University have developed a new type of vaccine that when combined with chemotherapy proved highly effective in mice, eliminating the cancer cells and stopping them from coming back for some time after.

The vaccine works much like all vaccines do, in the sense that it trains the body’s immune system to identify a risk (in this case cancerous cells), and propels it into action. Where most cancer vaccines under development are liquid and made to tackle solid tumors, the scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute instead put together a solid vaccine to take out a liquid foe.

“We have previously developed cancer vaccines against solid tumors, and we were curious to see if this technology would also be effective at treating a blood cancer like AML,” says co-first author Nisarg Shah. “The promising outcomes of the combination of this vaccine with chemotherapy may translate to human vaccines that can be personalized yet offer off-the-shelf convenience.”

Consisting of biomaterials built onto a disk-shaped “cryogel” scaffold, the vaccine is loaded with biomolecules and antigens specific to AML cancer cells to stir up an immune response in their presence. The hope was that the therapy would not only swiftly recognize and destroy the AML cells, but remain vigilant in fending off any future attacks over the longer term.





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