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Scientists have made a massive breakthrough with a universal vaccine that fights against cancer.
A 'positive step' has been taken towards creating the vaccine that makes the body's immune system attack tumours, experts have said.
A team of researchers say they have taken pieces of cancer's genetic RNA code, mixing them into tiny nanoparticles of fat and then injecting the mixture into the three patients in advanced stages of cancer.
In a paper on Nature, the team of researchers, led by Professor Ugur Sahin, said that patients responded by producing T-cells designed to attack cancer, and the vaccine was effective in fighting growing tumours.
In the paper it said: "[Such] vaccines are fast and inexpensive to produce, and virtually any tumour antigen [a protein attacked by the immune system] can be encoded by RNA."
"Thus, the nanoparticulate RNA immunotherapy approach introduced here may be regarded as a universally applicable novel vaccine class for cancer immunotherapy."
Although this is a major step forward in fighting against cancer, there was no direct evidence that the cancers in any of the three patients went away as a result.
For one patient, the treatment helped to reduce the size of a suspected tumour.
The paper said that another patient's eight tumours were kept 'clinically stable' after they were given the vaccine.
The final patient, who had their tumours all surgically removed, became cancer-free seven months after the vaccination.
Professor Alan Melcher, of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: "Immunotherapy for cancer is a rapidly evolving and exciting field. This new study, in mice and a small number of patients, shows that an immune response against the antigens within a cancer can be triggered by a new type of cancer vaccine."
"Although the research is very interesting, it is still some way away from being of proven benefit to patients."
Dr Helen Rippon, chief executive of Worldwide Cancer Research, said that the positive results are encouraging, but 'more research is needed in a larger number of people with different cancer types and over longer periods of time before we could say we have discovered a 'universal cancer vaccine''.
Featured image credit: Getty
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