Many cancer cells can be detected because the sugars on their surface proteins undergo specific changes from regular cells. The tumors produce a lot of the protein known as MUC1. Our immune systems have trouble recognizing the difference between these cancerous cells and the healthy cells because they both develop within the body.
Researchers have been testing a new vaccine on mice with cancers similar to the ones that develop on human cell. Luckily, the mice have been showing promising results and responding well to the vaccine! “This is the first time that a vaccine has been developed that trains the immune system to distinguish and kill cancer cells based on their different sugar structures on proteins such as MUC1,” Dr. Gendler says. The MUC1 can be detected on 70% of all cancer cells. Can this really be the answer?!
It’s suppose to help with breast, pancreatic, ovarian and multiple myeloma cancer. The vaccine will help the immune system recognize the MUC1 as a harmful foreigner. The vaccine has 3 parts. As we learned recently in our AP Biology class, the immune system attacks foreign cells with antibodies. Therefore the vaccine first has the immune system recognize the cells with MUC1 has harmful bacteria and then the immune system can send out the antibodies to fight off the cancer. Lastly, the vaccine stimulates a response from a lymphocyte.
This vaccine should be ready by 2013 to improve cancer treatment! The vaccine would be life changing for many patients out there that experience triple – negative deadly cancers. I am looking forward to hearing more about this research and hearing the wonders its will do!