Joseph Wu and his team at Stanford University have discovered that a mouse’s immune system can be primed to identify and target Cancer cells by vaccinating them beforehand with stem cells.
This method was motivated by evidence that cancers grow much like embryos, re-awakening genes crucial for fast growth during pregnancy that had been switched off after birth. To assist the immune system to recognise this, the team took skin cells from mice and turned them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), primordial cells similar to those in a foetus. These iPSCs transport some of the same proteins on their surface as many as cancer cells, states Wu.
Before injecting these into the mice they had been created from, Wu’s team first killed the stem cells with radiation so they would not grow inside the body, and joined them with a substance that aids the immune system to trigger into action.
Injections were given to the mice under the skin every week for a month, before being given implants of different types of tumours. In the mice that hadn’t been injected with the dead stem cells, these tumours continued to grow. However tumours shrank in all treated mice. Breast cancers vanished in seven out of 10 vaccinated mice, while skin cancers were eradicated from five out of nine treated mice.
Robert Weinberg from the Whitehead institute from Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts stated, “ This work is from giants in the field of cancer immunology, whose work has proven time and again to be rock solid.
Journal reference: Cell Stem Cell, DOI: 10.1016.j.stem.2018.01.016
Joseph Wu Lab: Stanford Medicine. Research:http://med.stanford.edu/wulab/research.html