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Vaccinating against cancer.

Vaccinating against cancer

It's difficult to spur the immune system to fight cancer -- since cancers arise from normal cells, the body often doesn't see anything foreign about malignancies. Some researchers have reported initial success with irradiated tumor cells combined with an immune system booster, and others are working on an "antibody cacade" system (SN-4/6/85, p.213). Volker Schirrmacher and his colleagues at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, West GErmany, think that using a tumor-cell vaccine made by infecting the cells with nonlethal viruses may do the trick.

The researchers worked with a highly mailgnant tumor in mice -- just one cancer cell from such a tumor can establish itself and kill a mouse in two to three weeks. After removing the initial tumor, they infected the tumor cells with a virus and then irradiated them. Half of the mice receiving an injection of these cells survived; all of the mice receiving surgery alone died. The virally infected cells present the tumor cells to the immune system in new way, Schirrmacher says, alering it to the presence of even non-virally-infected tumor cells.
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Author:Silberner, Joanne
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 26, 1986
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