A VACCINE that kills 90 per cent of cancers using the body’s natural defence mechanisms is in development, it was revealed yesterday.
Experts say the treatment has already freed patients of the disease after just two doses and could be widely available within six years.
Hopes are high the treatment could provide a universal injection to help millions of sufferers fight a range of cancers, including those of the breast and prostate.
The vaccine ImMucin works by triggering the immune system to seek out and destroy tumours.
Cancer cells often flourish because they are not seen as a threat by the body – unlike bacteria or viruses.
But the new vaccine uses a molecule called MUC1, found in 90 per cent of cancers, to train the immune system to recognise the rogue cells.
Scientists have found that by injecting the right level of MUC1 it can also trigger the body to fight them.
In a trial at the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, 10 patients suffering a form of blood cancer were injected with ImMucin. After two to four courses of treatment, seven saw their immune system strengthened and three were left free of the disease.
The vaccine is designed for patients with cancer rather than as a preventative jab.
It is believed it could be most effective fighting tumours that are detected early or to help prevent the return and spread of the disease where patients have been in remission.
The trials are now to be extended to more patients and different types of cancer.
They are being run by drug company Vaxil Biotherapeutics and scientists at Tel Aviv University.
A company spokesman said the first trial “generated a robust and specific immune response in all patients which was observed after only two to four doses of the vaccine out of a maximum of 12 doses”.
Cancer charities yesterday gave the vaccine a cautious welcome.
Dr Kat Arney, of Cancer Research UK, said: “There are several groups around the world investigating treatments that target MUC1 as it’s a very interesting target involved in several types of cancer.
“These are very early results that are yet to be fully published, so there’s a lot more work to be done to prove that this particular vaccine is safe and effective.”
The development came after studies revealed earlier this year that a dose of aspirin could save thousands of lives a year by cutting the risk of developing cancer or of it spreading by up to almost 50 per cent.