WASHINGTON — Researchers using a method to trigger the body's immune response have prevented and cured a type of malignant brain tumor in rats that kills its human victims within a year, an article published today in Science magazine says.
Although the research has been limited to rats, scientists say it could have major implications for development of a cancer vaccine and for treatment of glioblastomas, the most frequent and deadly brain tumor in humans.
Three research groups at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland found that injecting altered glioma cells into the rats blocked formation of the tumors and shrank existing tumors.
Researchers have been trying various approaches to ignite the body's immune system to fight cancer, in some cases by introducing a new element into cancer cells to stimulate an immunological response.
Mark Tykocinski, one of the researchers, said that instead of adding anything, they removed an element from the cell--in this case by neutralizing a genetic growth factor--to try to draw the immune system's attention to the cancer.
In an earlier study, the Case Western Reserve University scientists found that neutralizing the genetic growth factor in cancer cells triggered a localized immunological response.
Taking that a step further in the new study, the scientists determined that by injecting altered cells into the rats, they could trigger a system-wide response that destroyed cancer cells that had not been genetically altered.