Mayo Clinic researchers are using a genetic combination of human DNA and a cousin of the rabies virus to eradicate skin cancer from within trained mouse immune systems. In early studies, 60 percent of tumor-burdened mice were cured in fewer than three months and with minimal side effects.
The strategy, called cancer immunotherapy, uses a genetically engineered version of the vesicular stomatitis virus to deliver a broad spectrum of genes derived from melanoma cancer cells directly into tumors. Dr. Richard Vile, a Mayo Clinic researcher in the Department of Molecular Medicine and study co-author says, "We believe that this new technique will help us to identify a whole new set of genes that encode antigens that are important in stimulating the immune system to reject cancer." Human clinical studies are not anticipated for at least 2 to 3 years.
Results appear this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
This research adds to Mayo Clinic's growing portfolio of experimental cancer vaccines, which includes an active clinical trial of vesicular stomatitis vaccines for liver cancers.