The current big thing in battling cancer is the use of vaccines that stimulate the body’s immune system to attack tumors. This therapy is more precise than the carpet bombing that is standard chemotherapy. The vaccines only attack the tumors and leave the surrounding tissue alone, which means that the patient suffers far fewer side effects.
The next cancer that may fall to this particular therapy may be breast cancer, a disease that strikes one in eight American women in their lifetimes and kills 40,000 every year. Treatments for breast cancer often include radical mastectomies that involve the removal of one or both breasts, as well as chemotherapy and radiation. Early detection and the advancement of technology has reduced the death rate, but a diagnosis of breast cancer is still a traumatic event in the life of many women.
Researchers at Houston Methodist Research Institute have discovered that embedding cancer vaccines in porous silicon microparticles (PSM) helps to preserve them long enough for a sustained release, according to a recent article in Gizmag. Moreover, the silicon itself plays a role in stimulating the immune response at the cancer site, creating an environment the allows the T cells to do their work in destroying the cancers. Moreover, this effect happens in animal studies whether the silicon is embedded with the vaccine or not. That means that the microparticles might work for a whole variety of other cancers, using other targeted vaccines.
The next step will doubtless be the first human trials. With any luck, the new treatment will be used in a clinical setting in the next several years.
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