MAR 04, 2020 3:16 PM PST

Is a vaccine for colorectal cancer possible?

Researchers collaborating to develop the first vaccine capable of preventing colorectal cancer are preparing to move their investigations from animal models to human trials. Mary L. Disis, MD, is one of the researchers pursuing the vaccine as part of her 5-year American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award.

“In a clinical trial, our plan is to first give the vaccine to people who have a high risk for colorectal cancer,” Disis said. “Then, if over time, we’re able to provide enough evidence about its long-term safety, in the future, the vaccine has the potential to become more widely available. Our dream is to make colorectal cancer largely a disease of the past.” She is currently preparing to solicit approval from the FDA to move the trials to humans.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of deaths from cancer for men and women in the US combined. Approximately 4% of men and women in the US will develop colorectal cancer at some point in their lifetime, reports the ACS. That’s despite declining death rates, which are likely due to increased early detection from early screening and improved treatment options.

So far, Disis and her fellow researchers have tested their vaccine in mice models. “We found if we give the vaccine before giving mice a chemical that caused the development of polyps (and eventually colon cancer), we could prevent 80% of the polyps from becoming colon cancer,” Disis said. Additionally, said Disis, they determined that in mice whose genes had been changed to make them develop polyps and then colon cancer, the vaccine prevented 50% from developing pre-cancerous polyps.

Photo: Pixabay

This success was hard-won, as developing a cancer vaccine is anything but easy. As Disis explains, “In a cancer cell, the proteins look very similar to healthy proteins, so the immune system doesn’t know to attack them.” That means that the vaccine has to consider this factor.

Disis and her team hope to move their work forward, saying a colorectal cancer vaccine could change millions of people’s lives.

Sources: American Cancer Society

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
MAR 18, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 18, 2020
Drug Could Effectively Treat a Lethal Blood Cancer
A pricey drug, called tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), is used to continuously treat the blood cancer Chronic Myeloid Le ...
APR 06, 2020
Cancer
APR 06, 2020
A New Lead in the Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinomas
  Hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC, is a type of liver cancer, and the third most prevalent cancer-caused death in ...
MAR 30, 2020
Cancer
MAR 30, 2020
Cervical cancer screening affected by natural disasters
It may not come as a surprise that public health is adversely affected by natural disasters and conflict. New research p ...
APR 18, 2020
Cancer
APR 18, 2020
A New Double Threat Against Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in America.  One of the most aggressive forms of cancer is melanoma, ...
MAY 21, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAY 21, 2020
Molecular 'Switch' Makes Autoimmune Drugs Fight Cancer
Researchers from the Antibody and Vaccine Group at the University of Southampton, England, have identified a way to repu ...
MAY 28, 2020
Cancer
MAY 28, 2020
Oncologists need more training on how to deliver bad news
A commentary published earlier this spring in the Journal of Clinical Oncology urges for improved training for medical p ...
Loading Comments...