The vaccine works by boosting the immune system against abnormal cells, and was developed by a team at the National Centre for Tumour Diseases in Heidelberg, Germany.
And, in mice, it managed to stop the growth of cancer cells altogether - without harming healthy cells, according to new research published in Nature.
The vaccine is based on the natural ability that some patients have to mount an immune response against brain tumours. On its own this immune response isn’t enough to get rid of a tumour, but the researchers believe the new vaccine may be able to boost the natural process.
The team created the vaccine using a mutated protein called IDH1. This mutated version of IDH1 is found broadly in 70% of glioma - a type of brain cancer - but importantly is not in healthy human cells, the researchers found.
By introducing the mutated version of IDH1 to the immune system, the vaccine triggers the body to build antibodies against it. This sets up the immune system to be on the look out and prepared to attack the cancer as soon as it’s detected in the blood stream.
In mice who received the vaccine, this immune response was powerful enough to stop the growth of cancer cells with the mutated IDH1 protein.
This is a proof-of-principal study and it’s too early to know if this approach would work in humans, but the team is now applying for approval to start human clinical trials in Germany next year.