Science may have developed a vaccine that encourages the body to destroy the most dangerous skin cancer, melanoma.
A vaccine is being tested in the United Kingdom. It attacks only tumour cells and also boosts the body’s response against the skin cancer. Melanoma can spread through the body before patients realize what it is.
Dr Howard Kaufman, of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Centre, is also involved in the study. He expects that the vaccine will save thousands of lives a year. In the U.K., 10,000 patients are diagnosed each year and 2,000 die.
The study looked at 50 patients with advanced melanoma who had been given no more than nine months to live. After getting the vaccine, eight of them–16%–recovered completely. Even after more than four years, the cancer hasn’t come back. For another fourteen patients–28%–tumours shank more than 50%.
The researchers hope to get further tests “fast-tracked” so that they can get the vaccine on the market within five years.