Closer to a Cure for Colon Cancer?
It seems like there are vaccines for so many conditions today. There are vaccines for measles, meningitis, hepatitis, chicken pox, tetanus and HPV. What if a vaccine for colon cancer could be added to your preventative care plan? That hope may become a reality someday, thanks in part to a team of researchers from University of Washington.
Mary (Nora) Disis, M.D., and her research team are in the process of identifying genes that will initiate immune cells to kill newly-developed cancer cells. Disis received the American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor grant to fund her work on developing this preventative vaccine. Disis explains, “We have identified a couple hundred genes that would be reasonable targets for a prevention vaccine.” A vaccine could completely change the face of colon cancer, which is currently the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Currently, the colonoscopy is the best screening test for colon cancer because it is the only test that examines the entire length of the colon for colorectal polyps. Colon cancer is highly treatable when discovered in the early stages, but many people are at high risk who will develop, and die from, colon cancer. A vaccine could make all the difference.
The next step for Disis is to isolate the genes that are important in the growth of cancer and decipher whether the immune system will respond to these genes. When asked how soon the vaccine will go into trial testing, Disis responded, “We think it will take about three years to be able to sort through all our (gene) candidates and come up with a vaccine to show efficacy in mice; from there it will take another year to do extensive testing to make sure it would be safe to do human clinical trials.”
If the colon cancer vaccine can be used on humans, Disis says that the vaccine will be especially helpful for patients who have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, or those who suffer from polyposis syndrome. The vaccine may not be for everyone, but it may be used in addition to other preventative treatments (Source: Endonurse).