Vaccine 'could halt' prostate cancer

An experimental prostate cancer vaccine has stopped development of the disease in 90 per cent of test cases on mice, it has been reported.

Researchers from California tested the new vaccine on 20 mice bred to develop prostate cancer. In 18 of the cases, the vaccine turned the cancer into a chronic, manageable disease, lead researcher Professor Martin Kast.

"By early vaccination, we have basically given these mice life-long protection against a disease they were destined to have," explained Professor Kast, of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Centre in California.

"This has never been done before and, with further research, could represent a paradigm shift in the management of human prostate cancer."

The vaccine was given in two stages, the first part consisting of a fragment of DNA coded for prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA), a protein is overproduced as prostate cancers grow.

The second injection, given two weeks later, used a modified horse virus to deliver the PSCA gene, causing the immune system to step up its attack of tumour cells.

After one year, only two of the mice had developed full prostate cancer, while 20 similarly bred mice which were not given the treatment died of their cancers.

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