London: A ``universal`` vaccine, which is part of a new generation of drugs that use the body’s own defences to fight the disease, stopping tumours in their tracks, could be available in just two years.
The TeloVac jab could revolutionise the treatment of cancer.
But it is hoped it will be effective against many other tumours, including those of the skin, lung and liver. Breast and prostate cancers may also be within its grasp.
Rather than attacking the cancer cells, like many existing drugs, it harnesses the power of the immune system to fight the tumours.
It works by encouraging the immune system to seek out and destroy an enzyme called telomerase. Found at high levels in many cancer cells, telomerase effectively makes them immortal, allowing them to live on when healthy cells would die – easing the growth and spread of the tumour.
If the latest study, which is funded by Cancer Research UK, proves the jab’s worth, it could be available to treat advanced pancreatic cancer by the end of 2013. In time, it could be used earlier in the disease – and even to prevent it.
“We strongly believe this has the potential to overcome the limits of other current cancer vaccines and become part of the standard of care not only for pancreatic cancer but for various other types of cancers,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Jay Sangjae Kim, the founder of GemVax, the Korean company developing the TeloVac vaccine, as saying.
“In other words, a truly “universal” vaccine will be available in the near future,” added Kim.