Cancer may soon be prevented with a vaccine that works like those used against viruses. Researchers in China have developed a way to “efficiently activate” the immune system to inhibit tumor development.
The potential cancer vaccine, described in Science Advances, uses materials already used by the medical community, which would help speed up the process to test and bring it to the market. Researchers also used a method previously proven effective against common tumors, such as lymphoma, melanoma and breast cancer.
But the earlier version of the cancer vaccine has limitations. Its production involves a complicated preparation process and requires frequent vaccinations, which could compromise its performance.
“Therefore, we designed a novel microcapsule-based formulation for high-performance cancer vaccinations,” Ma Guanghui, lead researcher and a professor at the Institute of Process Engineering (IPE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a statement.
For the new cancer vaccine, the researchers used self-healing microcapsules. The material promises to help improve how the vaccine moves in the body by creating a favorable immunization microenvironment.
“As a result, effective T cell response, potent tumor inhibition, anti-metastatic effects and prevention of postsurgical recurrence are achieved with various types of antigens in different tumor models,” Wei Wei, co-lead researcher and a professor at IPE, said.
Researchers said another advantage offered by the new cancer vaccine is that it only requires a simple post-encapsulation process during the production process. That means clinicians could prepare the neoantigen formulation by themselves at any time.
A peer reviewer from Science Advances said the study provides “impressive” results and is a ”high value for therapeutic vaccines and cancer immunotherapy.”
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that 75 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. can be prevented. But available methods to avoid the disease mostly focus on healthy lifestyle.
Experts suggest that people avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, reduce or avoid saturated fat and red meat, limit alcohol consumption and exercise regularly. Sleep also plays an important role in health and getting enough rest at night may help avoid cancer risk factors.