Such a complete and through activation of the
immune system against prostate cancer has never before been
seen, according to study senior author Dr. William G. Nelson,
of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The study
was published in the October 15th issue of the journal Cancer
Johns Hopkins researchers focused on eight prostate cancer
patients whose cancers had spread throughout the body despite
surgical removal of the prostate.
Using cells taken
from these patients, the researchers grew prostate cancer
cells in the laboratory. They then injected a potent
anti-cancer gene, GM-CSF, into these cells. Then they
reintroduced the cancer cells back into the patient. The cells
were irradiated prior to injection to eliminate the
possibility of triggering new cancers.
Within a month
after injection, the cancer 'vaccine' had placed each
patient's immune T-cells on 'high alert' against prostate
The researchers "were not surprised to
see T-cell activation," Nelson said in a Johns Hopkins
statement, since T-cells are naturally 'turned on' by the
presence of retroviruses such as the one carrying the vaccine.
Side effects were minimal: Mostly
itching at the injection site and
The researchers believe the therapy
holds promise as a new method of attacking metastatic
(spreading) cancers. "Using gene therapy, we re-educated the
immune systems to recognize prostate cancer cells as a
potential infection and attack," explained study lead author
Dr. Jonathan Simons.
He believes that
genetically-engineered vaccines "could make a real difference
when used as secondary therapy".
Presentation on Flash