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Emma Appleyard 0845 6020662, emma@cancervaccine.org.uk 25 May 2005

CANCER VACCINE INSTITUTE LAUNCHES WEB SITE
The national charity Cancer Vaccine Institute (CVI) has launched a website www.cancervaccine.org.uk. It offers information about its pioneering research work and how cancer patients can benefit from vaccine treatment. It also includes a section for people wishing to support the charity. With a staggering 1 in 3 people in the UK being diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime (CRUK, 2004), until a prevention or cure is found, it is vital that treatments are improved and made easier to cope with. The Cancer Vaccine Institute (CVI) is the only national charity specifically funding research into cancer vaccines to enable patients to live longer with a better quality of life. In very simple terms, cancer vaccines alert the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer from within. They are given as a regular injection and unlike conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy side-effects are minimal. Patients are therefore able to lead a “normal life” while the body silently fights the cancer. Vaccines are still in early stages but have already shown promising results, in particular for malignant melanoma and prostate cancer and many patients have benefited through clinical trials. Although some people have had no response, for others vaccines have slowed or stopped the rate of cancer growth and even started to shrink it. In exceptional circumstances the cancer has actually disappeared. Researchers also believe that the vaccine may stop cancer spreading to new sites in the body and may also stop the cancer from coming back. Professor Angus Dalgleish, Bsc (Hons) MD FRCPath FRACP FRCP FMedSci, Professor of Oncology, St George’s Hospital Medical School Tooting, London. “We expect the benefits of the cancer vaccine research undertaken by the Cancer Vaccine Institute (CVI) to make a significant contribution in providing new types of immunotherapy for cancer. We are delighted to launch our website. We are the only national charity specifically funding cancer vaccine research and with more patients than ever undertaking research about their own conditions and treatment options it’s important that accurate and clear information is available for them and their health professionals who refer them. For information about cancer vaccine treatment or to make a donation visit www.cancervaccine.org.uk or call 0845 602 0662.

- EndsNotes to Editor
 The Cancer Vaccine Institute (CVI) was founded in 2000 as the only national charity specifically funding research to find and develop better treatment for cancer through vaccines, to help patients live longer with a better quality of life. The research is currently undertaken by Professor Dalgleish at St George’s Hospital Medical School. The Research Projects involve basic laboratory work and clinical trials involving cancer patients. A Scientific Board is responsible for independently assessing and prioritising research projects.

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The CVI is currently funding clinical trials for: malignant melanoma stage IV receptive or nonreceptive, Sarcoma, kidney cancer, prostate cancer and metastatic disease from any solid tumour including breast, colorectal and lung. Evidence shows however, with sufficient funding, that this technology could be applied to a broader range of cancers. Cancer vaccines are being proclaimed as having a major role in the future treatment and prevention of cancer. Indeed, it is likely that a vaccine for melanoma will be licensed in the US towards the end of this year. CVI has been involved in this field from the outset and was the first centre outside of the US to offer vaccines. Consequently, we have built up an area of expertise which alongside achieving publications we are keen to share through our website. We need to raise at least £500,000 each year to meet the costs of this pioneering work. We rely entirely on voluntary contributions to achieve this. Cancer Vaccines Explained: Our immune system protects us from infection and disease. It is a complex system which enables the body to recognise abnormal or unwanted cells and respond quickly to destroy them. If cells become cancerous they start to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way. The immune system often has difficulty recognising these cells as abnormal and does not destroy them. The cancer cells then continue to grow. Cancer vaccines are made from the person’s own cancer cells (autologous) or from somebody else’s cancer cells that are grown in a laboratory (allogeneic). These cells are treated with radiation or heat to make them safe. Sitting on the surface of these cells are certain proteins known as Antigens. Antigens sit on the surface of abnormal cells, and are how the immune system is able to identify abnormal cells apart from normal ones and stimulate an immune response to destroy them. These Antigens are taken from the ‘safe’ cancer cells and used to make a vaccine. Known antigens are sometimes made synthetically, such as using peptides or DNA as the basis for vaccines. Often other substances may be added to the vaccine, which are already known to boost the immune system, such as BCG, the vaccine that protects against tuberculosis. This vaccine is then given to the patient. Dendritic cells may also be added to the vaccine and this is a particular focus of CVI’s research. Dendritic cells are highly specialised cells that play a powerful and dominant role in alerting the immune system to quickly identify abnormal cells. A complicated method to extract these cells from patient’s blood and grow them in the laboratory has been developed. The CVI has also been able to develop a method to freeze and store the vaccines so that they can be used later. Since dendritic cells are the most powerful, it is hoped that they may result in rapid more long-lasting anti-cancer effects for the patient. Cancer vaccines are still in early stages of development and only currently available to patients through clinical trials.

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For further information: Emma Appleyard, 0845 602 0662, emma@cancervaccine.org.uk


				
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