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Have scientists found an anti-cancer vaccine?

Stem cells might be effective as the base of an anti-cancer vaccine.

Researchers from Stanford University used stem cells to create a vaccine that has proven effective against breast, lung, and skin cancer in mice.

To produce the vaccine, the scientists turned to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), or stem cells that are generated from adult cells.

Over a decade ago, Japanese-based scientists showed for the first time that adult cells can be genetically reprogrammed to behave in the same way as pluripotent stem cells.

These cells can take any shape or function, “specializing” into whatever type of cell the body needs.

Embryonic stem cells are probably the most well-known type of pluripotent stem cell. As Wu and colleagues write, about a century ago, scientists found that immunizing animals with embryonic tissue caused them to reject tumors.

Over time, this led scientists to believe that embryonic stem cells could be used as a sort of vaccine against cancer tumors. The main challenge of anti-cancer vaccines, however, is the limited number of antigens — or foreign agents that elicit an immune response — that the immune system can be exposed to at once.

But, as Wu and his colleagues write, using iPSCs generated from the patient’s own genetic material has — in theory — a range of immunogenic advantages. They present immune T cells with a “more accurate and representative panel of [a] patient’s tumor immunogens.”

So, the researchers — led by Joseph C. Wu, of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University in California — set out to test this hypothesis in mice, and they published their results in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Read on: Have scientists found an anti-cancer vaccine?

Read on: Have scientists found an anti-cancer vaccine?

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