London: Scientists claim to have developed a "universal" cancer vaccine that can train patients` own bodies to seek out and destroy tumour cells.A team from Tel Aviv University and drug company Vaxil Biotheraputics say the therapy targets a molecule found in 90 per cent of all cancers, and could soon pave the way fora universal injection that allows patients` immune systems to fight off common cancers including breast and prostate cancer.Preliminary results from early clinical trials have shown that the vaccine can trigger an immune response in patients and reduce levels of disease, `The Sunday Telegraph` reported. Now, the scientists hope to conduct larger trials in patients to prove it can be effective against a range of different cancers.In fact, they believe it could be used to combat small tumours if they are detected early enough or to prevent the return of the disease in patients who have undergone otherforms of treatment such as surgery.Cancer cells usually evade patient`s immune systems because they are not recognised as being a threat. While the immune system usually attacks foreign cells such as bacteria,tumours are formed of patient`s own cells that malfunctioned. The scientists have, however, found that a molecule called MUC1, found in high amounts on the surface of cancer cells, can be used to help immune system detect tumours.The vaccine uses a small section of the molecule to prime the immune system so that it can identify and destroy cancer cells, say the scientists. A statement from Vaxil Biotheraputics said: "ImMucin generated a robust and specific immune response in all patients which was observed after only 2-4 doses of thevaccine out of a maximum of 12 doses. In some of the patients, preliminary signs of clinical efficacy were observed."
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