Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Parasite in cats shows promise for a potent cancer vaccine

A single nonreplicating cps parasite
inside a tumor cell – 
Norris Cotton
Cancer Center
CANCER DIGEST – July 22, 2014 – A parasite that is only able to reproduce and complete its lifecycle in cats’ intestines has been adapted to make a potent anti-cancer vaccine. Using the parasite commonly found in cat feces, researchers at Norris Cotton Cancer Center have developed a vaccine that uniquely spurs the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a single-celled parasite
found worldwide, and affects about one-third of the world's population, including 60 million Americans. Most people have no symptoms, but some experience a flu-like illness. What is different about this parasite is that it triggers the exact immune response to launch natural killer cells and cytotoxic T cells needed to kill cancer cells.

In a study published online last October in Onco Immunology, David J. Bzik, PhD, Barbara Fox and Kiah L Sanders of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth showed that a modified version of the microbe that cannot reproduce, called cps immunotherapeutic vaccine resulted in tumor regression and improved the survival in mice with ovarian and melanoma tumors.

“Cps stimulates amazingly effective immunotherapy against cancers, superior to anything seen before," said Bzik. Despite its promise, Fox and Bzik stress that a lot more study is needed before cps leaves the laboratory.

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