Scientists behind Oxford Covid jab create revolutionary ‘cancer vaccine’

Scientists behind Oxford Covid jab create revolutionary ‘cancer vaccine’

The team behind the Oxford Covid jab has created a vaccine that could “revolutionise” cancer treatment.

The jab will be tested in humans for the first time after promising results in animal experiments. 

The Oxford team will test a cancer treatment in humans
The Oxford team will test a cancer treatment in humansCredit: Alamy

The cancer vaccine was able to shrink tumours in mice and even improve their survival rates when combined with another therapy that turns a person’s immune system against cancer, report the Times

The first human trial will involve 80 patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.

The research team said the jab is based on the same “viral vector” technology that was used in the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab.

With the Covid vaccine, genetic material is transported to a person’s cells through a harmless virus in a bid to train the immune system to fight off the actual virus. 

But, in the cancer jab, genetic material prompts the body to respond to molecules called MAGE proteins which are found on cancer cells.

The jab aims to boost T-cells to attack cancer.

Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at the university told The Times: “This new vaccine platform has the potential to revolutionise cancer treatment.”

Benoit Van den Eynde, professor of tumour immunology at the University of Oxford, said: “We knew that MAGE-type proteins act like red flags on the surface of cancer cells to attract immune cells that destroy tumours.

“Importantly for target specificity, MAGE-type antigens are not present on the surface of normal tissues, which reduces the risk of side effects caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells.”

A study has shown that the Oxford Covid jab, given to 25 million Brits, is the best at keeping people with the virus out of hospital.

As well as generating virus-busting antibodies, the vaccine also creates “training camps” in the body for search-and-destroy T-cells which can kill even new variants.

It means the body can continue making these vital cells long after the antibodies have waned – and possibly for life.

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Aliki Kraterou

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