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UK scientists have identified how a specific region of a prostate-related protein can be used to trigger the body's immune response against prostate cancer. The study by scientists at Nottingham Trent University - and published in the European Journal of Immunology - could pave the way for new and improved vaccines for prostate cancer.
The work focused on the prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) protein, which is present in more than 90% of prostate tumours. Scientists were able to develop a new prostate cancer vaccination strategy utilising a portion, or 'epitope' of this PAP protein - PAP 114 - which was capable of preventing and reducing tumour growth in pre-clinical trials.
The team believes the study could lead to the development of new vaccines which are able to generate a more specific, more efficient, faster and longer-lasting protective immune response against prostate cancer.
It might also mean that vaccines could be developed at a lower cost than currently, and with fewer potential side effects, say the scientists, who are based in the university's John van Geest Cancer Research Centre.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK - each year more than 10,000 men will die as a result of prostate cancer and more than 40,000 will be diagnosed with the disease. Cases are rising among men over 50 and the average age for men to be diagnosed is between 70 and 74.
Although cancer vaccines can be formulated in a number of different ways, the approach devised by the scientists for this PAP vaccine would involve a series of injections.
Dr Stephanie McArdle, lead researcher based in Nottingham Trent University's John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, said: "Unfortunately for most cancers, the specific targets against which vaccination strategies can be based are sometimes weak and relatively poor at inducing robust, protective anti-tumour immune responses.
"Developing cancer vaccines that can overcome the capacity of tumours to 'evade' the immune system and induce protective anti-tumour immunity is therefore essential for the development of new immunotherapies for aggressive disease.
"Our findings demonstrate that PAP-114 is a promising candidate for further development of PAP-based anti-cancer vaccine strategies. It induces characteristics that are consistent with anti-tumour protection; capable of triggering an immune attack against prostate cancer cells and protecting against established prostate tumours."
The epitopes of the PAP protein were delivered to the immune system using Scancell's proprietary ImmunoBody® technology.
A novel prostate acid phosphatase-based peptide vaccination strategy induces antigen-specific T-cell responses and limits tumour growth in mice, Jaimy M. S. Saif, Jayakumar Vadakekolathu, Shraddha S. Rane, Danielle McDonald, Murrium Ahmad, Morgan Mathieu, A. Graham Pockley, Lindy Durrant, Rachael Metheringham, Robert C. Rees, Stephanie McArdle, European Journal of Immunology - DOI: 10.1002/eji.201343863
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
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Scancell. "Scientists unlock prostate cancer protein in move which could lead to improved cancer vaccines." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 19 Dec. 2013. Web.
8 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270360>
Scancell. (2013, December 19). "Scientists unlock prostate cancer protein in move which could lead to improved cancer vaccines." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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