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Listeria-based vaccine could halt breast cancer

Researchers in conjunction with US-based biotechnology company Advaxis develop Listeria-derived vaccines which could halt or even reverse breast cancer

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with US-based biotechnology company, Advaxis, have developed of a series of cancer-fighting vaccines which may halt or even reverse breast cancer.

The vaccine was developed from investigations into the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium which grows in milk, cheese and other dairy products. The micro-organism creates a strong immune response to the presence of cancer cells.

Yvonne Paterson, professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania and scientific director at Advaxis, presented evidence of the cancer-fighting properties of live, modified Listeria-based vaccines, which eradicated several types of rapidly growing cancers in mice studies.

Listeria blocks the immune system's response when it gains access to the body, helping it to spread. Researchers observed a mechanism whereby the organism directed the immune response to attack cancer cells. As a result, the vaccines taught the immune system to mount a specialised, targeted response lethal to cancer cells.

Advaxis is now preparing for clinical trials of Lovaxin B, which is aimed at treating women with pre-existing breast cancer.

Professor John Rothman, vice-president of clinical development at Advaxis, said: "While it may be a few years before we complete the studies, the promise of a cancer vaccine is truly a milestone that we hope may be attainable."

30th September 2008

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