Vaccine could delay bowel inflammation and colon cancer: research

March 24, 2010

An experimental vaccine against an abnormal protein found in some tumors has the potential to delay the onset of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and in turn prevent progression to colon cancer, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings are reported this week in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

People with chronic inflammatory disorders such as IBD are at greater risk for developing cancer at the inflamed site, said senior author Olivera Finn, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Immunology, Pitt School of Medicine. In other cases, genes that develop cancerous changes can trigger inflammation. The vaccine made by her team is directed against an abnormal variant of a self-made cell protein called MUC1, which is altered and produced in excess in both IBD and colon cancer.

"Our experiments indicate that boosting the immune response against this protein early in the disease can delay IBD development, control inflammation and thereby reduce the risk of future cancers," Dr. Finn said. "These findings suggest also that the early stages of might be considered a premalignant condition."

The researchers tested transgenic mice that spontaneously develop IBD and then progress to colitis-associated colon cancer, producing the human version of MUC1 in both disease states. They found that animals that received the vaccine showed the first signs of IBD significantly later than those in two control groups that did not get the vaccine.

Microscopic evaluation of the colon tissue showed less inflammation in the vaccinated mice, and no indication of cancerous changes. Nearly half of the animals in each of the control groups had evidence of abnormal tissue, and two had colon cancer.

"The MUC1 vaccine seems to change the local environment from one that promotes cancer development to one that inhibits it," Dr. Finn said. "Certain that we usually see in the inflamed colon aren't present, and that could make the surroundings less friendly for potentially cancerous cells that also are directly targeted by the vaccine for destruction."

This study suggests that in the future the vaccine might be considered as part of the therapeutic regimen for IBD as well. The experimental has been studied in patients with colon and pancreatic cancer and currently is being tested as a prevention measure in patients who have a high risk for developing .

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

Computer program finds new uses for old drugs

November 16, 2017
Researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have developed a computer program to find new indications for old drugs. The computer program, called DrugPredict, ...

Pharmacoscopy improves therapy for relapsed blood cancer in a first clinical trial

November 16, 2017
Researchers at CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna presented a preliminary report in The Lancet Hematology on the clinical impact of an integrated ex vivo approach called pharmacoscopy. The procedures measure single-cell ...

Wider sampling of tumor tissues may guide drug choice, improve outcomes

November 15, 2017
A new study focused on describing genetic variations within a primary tumor, differences between the primary and a metastatic branch of that tumor, and additional diversity found in tumor DNA in the blood stream could help ...

A new strategy for prevention of liver cancer development

November 14, 2017
Primary liver cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and its incidences and mortality are increasing rapidly in the United Stated. In late stages of the malignancy, there are no effective ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.