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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Early Success in Curing Melanoma in Mice Spurs Mayo Vaccine Development

Success with melanoma adds to Mayo Clinic's growing portfolio of experimental cancer vaccines

March 19, 2012 – Sixty percent of mice with melanoma skin cancer tumors were cured in less than three months by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. The researchers trained the immune system of the mice to eradicate skin cancer from within, using a genetic combination of human DNA from melanoma cells and a cousin of the rabies virus.

 

Related Archive Stories

 
 

New Therapies May Mean More Life for Patients with Advanced Melanoma

Two new drugs, vemurafenib (Zelboraf) and ipilimumab (Yervoy), showing promise in slowing the progression of this skin cancer - March 16, 2012

Metastatic Melanoma Patients Live Almost Twice as Long with New Drug

Zelboraf (vemurafenib) changes the natural history of the disease to extend survival - see video - Feb. 23, 2012

Cancer Survivors Face Increased Risk of Melanoma; Melanoma Survivors Even More

Melanoma the most aggressive, dangerous skin cancer, fifth most common cancer among men, seventh among women - Dec. 19, 2011

Pre-Melanoma Skin Lesion Found Mostly in Elderly Successfully Removed with Laser

Lentigo maligna disappears as carbon dioxide laser exerts its effect by vaporization of water-containing cells - Nov. 21, 2011

Coffee, Favorite Drink of Seniors, Provides Protection from Basal Cell Carcinoma

Women get almost twice as much protection as men among 3-cup a day drinkers - see video - Oct. 26, 2011

Senior Citizens Facing Melanoma Should Worry More About Their Health Than Their Age

Patients with lower muscle density had much higher rates of their cancer returning – regardless of the tumor size or patient's age - Aug. 30, 2011


Links to more archived news reports below this story.
 
 

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The strategy, called cancer immunotherapy, uses a genetically engineered version of the vesicular stomatitis virus to deliver a broad spectrum of genes derived from melanoma cancer cells directly into tumors.

The mice in these early studies in Rochester, Minnesota, experienced minimal side effects, according to the report appearing this week in the journal of Nature Biotechnology.

"We believe that this new technique will help us to identify a whole new set of genes that encode antigens that are important in stimulating the immune system to reject cancer,”. says Richard Vile, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher in the Department of Molecular Medicine and a coauthor of the study, along with Jose Pulido, M.D., a Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist and ocular oncologist.

“In particular, we have seen that several proteins need to be expressed together to generate the most effective rejection of the tumors in mice."

Dr. Vile's success with melanoma adds to Mayo Clinic's growing portfolio of experimental cancer vaccines, which includes an active clinical trial of vesicular stomatitis vaccines for liver cancers. Future studies could include similar vaccines for more aggressive cancers, such as lung, brain and pancreatic.

"I do believe we can create vaccines that will knock them off one by one," Dr. Vile says. "By vaccinating against multiple proteins at once, we hope that we will be able to treat both the primary tumor and also protect against recurrence."

The immune system functions on a seek-and-destroy platform and has fine-tuned its capacity to identify viral invaders such as vesicular stomatitis virus. Part of the appeal of building cancer vaccines from the whole spectrum of tumor DNA is that tumors can adapt to the repeated attacks of a healthy immune system and display fewer antigens (or signposts) that the immune system can identify.

Cancers can learn to hide from a normal immune system, but appear unable to escape an immune system trained by the vesicular stomatitis virus with the wide range of DNA used in the library approach.

"Nobody knows how many antigens the immune system can really see on tumor cells," says Dr. Vile. "By expressing all of these proteins in highly immunogenic viruses, we increased their visibility to the immune system. The immune system now thinks it is being invaded by the viruses, which are expressing cancer-related antigens that should be eliminated."

Much immunotherapy research has slowed because of researchers' inability to isolate a sufficiently diverse collection of antigens in tumor cells. Tumors in these scenarios are able to mutate and reestablish themselves in spite of the body's immune system.

The study was a Mayo collaboration with professors Alan Melcher and Peter Selby at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds, U.K. They were also co-authors.

Other coauthors of the article are Timothy Kottke; Jill Thompson; Feorillo Galivo, Ph.D; Rosa Maria Diaz; Diana Rommelfanger-Konkol; Elizabeth Ilett; and Larry Pease, Ph.D., all of Mayo Clinic; Hardev Pandha, M.D., University of Surrey, Guildford, U.K.; Phonphimon Wongthida, Ph.D., Department of Virology and Cell Technology at the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Pathumthani, Thailand; and Kevin Harrington, Ph.D., Institute of Cancer Research, London, U.K.

The study was funded by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Mayo Clinic, Cancer Research UK, the National Institutes of Health, and a grant from Terry and Judith Paul.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic reports it is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/about and www.mayoclinic.org/news.

Do You Have Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and senior citizens are the usual victimes. Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color or feel of a mole. Most melanomas have a black or black-blue area. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole. It may be black, abnormal or "ugly looking."

Thinking of "ABCD" can help you remember what to watch for:

   Asymmetry - the shape of one half does not match the other

   Border - the edges are ragged, blurred or irregular

   Color - the color in uneven and may include shades of black, brown and tan

   Diameter - there is a change in size, usually an increase

Melanoma can be cured if it is diagnosed and treated early. If melanoma is not removed in its early stages, cancer cells may grow downward from the skin surface and invade healthy tissue. If it spreads to other parts of the body it can be difficult to control.

MedlinePlus


Links to More Archived Stories on Melanoma Cancer

Vitamin D Appears Linked With Risk of Skin Cancer, Although Relationship Complex

Study looked at vitamin D level in senior citizens with non-melanoma skin cancers - Aug. 15, 2011


Melanoma Skin Cancer a Chronic Disease Causing Long-Term Problems for Women

Women need additional care, including follow-up and possibly counseling to optimally cope with melanoma - Feb. 21, 2011


Screening for Skin Cancer Needs Better Guidelines, More Emphasis on Senior Men

Screening without regard for risk factors can be low-yield - only 1.5 per 1,000 people screened in a national program had melanoma

Oct. 20, 2010


Most Likely to See Basal Cell Carcinoma Return with Red Hair, More Education, Early First One

Senior citizen men are most likely victims of these skin cancers but if first is after age 75, less likely to get another

Aug. 16, 2010


New Substance Highlights Melanoma Skin Cancers for Early Detection by Hybrid Scanner

Could save thousands of senior citizens by detecting melanoma in its most curable stage

Aug. 11, 2010


Advanced Melanoma Appears Cured in Some Patients by New Ipilimumab Drug Therapy

Large Phase III clinical trial finds 67% increase in survival for this drug treatment (See Video) - June 7, 2010


UK Scientists Get Green Light to Test Vaccine for Melanoma Cancers

Hope it will reverse, and even cure malignant melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer

May 26, 2010


Studies Find Increases in Non-Melanoma, Melanoma Skin Cancers; JAMA Article Says It’s Chronic Disease

Senior Citizens major targets of skin cancer;  bout one in five 70-year-olds have had non-melanoma skin cancers, and most who were affected have had more than one

March 15, 2010


Study Finds We Are Winning the War on Cancer as Death Rates Decline Steadily Since 1990

For those under age 75, drop in cancer death rate between 1970-2006 resulted in about 2.0 million years of potential life gained

March 9, 2010


Faster Diagnosis of Deadly Melanoma Skin Cancers May Come From Infrared System

Doctors need to identify a mole that may be melanoma at an early, treatable stage to save the lives of thousands of senior citizens

Feb. 26, 2010


People with Most Moles are Most Likely to Develop Deadly Melanoma Cancer, Study Finds

Already well known that people with red hair, fair skin and those who sunburn easily are most at risk of melanoma

July 6, 2009


Most Melanoma Skin Cancers Found by Physicians are on Male Senior Citizens

These doc-detected cancers tend to be thinner, found on back, more treatable

April 20, 2009


Valentine's Day Gift Idea for Senior Couples: Screen the One You Love

Couples encouraged to examine each other for suspicious moles that could be skin cancer. Researchers estimate that 40 – 50% of people in the U.S. who live to age 65 will have nonmelanoma skin cancer at least once.

Feb. 2, 2009


Large Skin Lesions More Likely to be Melanomas; Scalp, Neck Cancers More Deadly

Screening becomes increasingly critical as rate of melanomas increases

April 21, 2008


New Type Drug Found Effective in Innovative Attack on Melanoma Cancer

New drug with chemotherapy more than doubled the time patients survived without progression of their cancer - Sept. 26, 2007


Skin Cancer Most Likely to Strike Wealthy Old Men

Top three skin cancers increase with age; but malignant melanomas decrease as men pass 75, says Northern Ireland study - June 11, 2007


Skin Cancer Information Targeting Senior Citizens Now on NIH Senior Health Site

NIHSeniorHealth.gov is based on the latest research on aging

May 31, 2007


Fastest Growing Skin Cancers More Likely to Occur in Men 70 or Older

Non-factors: age spots, history of sun exposure, skin type, history of melanoma - Dec. 18, 2006


Older Men Lead in Melanoma Deaths but Need Extra Motivation to Seek Screening

Melanomas increase 15-fold in 50 years – mostly in men over age 50

July 10, 2006


Researchers Find Success in Engineering White Blood Cells to Kill Melanoma Cancer Cells

New method of gene therapy developed at National Cancer Institute

August 31, 2006

 

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