A new vaccine has been developed by a research team from Southampton University,which works by instigating the body's immune system to fight lymphoma,a cancer of the immune cells in the blood.The lymphoma cells are not usually identified by the body's immune system, and so can multiply diversely.
By, using the new technique, scientists are able to remove a sample of tumour cells from a patient, and isolate the genetic material which identifies the cells as foreign bodies.This material is then multiplied in the test tube and combined with part of the toxin which causes tetanus. It is then re-injected into the patient.
Head of the research team Professor Freda Stevenson said: "In theory tumour cells should be killed by the immune system because it is designated to destroy anything which is not a normal, healthy cell.However tumour cells are decieving. Though clearly labelled, they have developed ways of switching off the immune system to their presence, thwarting any possible attack.
Professor Stephenson plans to launch a 21-patient trial of the new vaccine within six months.She believes the treatment will be without side effects, and will offer the patient immunity against their cancer for life.
It is hoped that the treatment can be refined and extended to other cancers of the blood - including myeloma and myeloid leukaemia.