Skin cancer nano-vaccine protects mice from deadly melanoma cells

Melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer, may one day be prevented and treated using a simple vaccine. Researchers with Tel Aviv University have published the results of their work with nanoparticles and the potential for training one's immune system to target cancer cells before they become an issue. The study involved lab mice that were administered both the nano-vaccine and melanoma cells.

Though vaccines are common, the idea of a vaccination that protects against cancer is new and, at this point in time, not available to the public. We've seen a few studies on novel vaccines that could potentially prevent or treat certain types of cancers, the latest of which was recently published by Tel Aviv University.

The so-called 'nano-vaccine' is comprised of very tiny particles made from a type of biodegradable polymer. Each of these particles, which measured only 170 nanometers in diameter, contain two peptides packed together. The peptides, which are short amino acid chains, are expressed by the melanoma cells that cause melanoma cancer.

Mice injected with these nanoparticles were found to have developed an immunity to melanoma cells later on in the study. The researchers determined this by injecting the mice with melanoma cells after treating them with the nano-vaccine. The mice did not develop skin cancer as a result.

As well, mice that already had a cancerous tumor were treated with both immunotherapy and the nano-vaccine; the progression of their illness was drastically slowed as a result, enabling them to live much longer. The scientists also found evidence that this type of nanoparticle treatment may also be useful for treating brain metastases in patients who have melanoma.