The development of a new vaccine could have wide-reaching repercussions for the future treatment of cancer.
Scientists at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, have developed a new vaccine at a pre-clinical level which appears to manipulate the immune response to cancer.
The development of a cancer vaccine, although possible in theory, has proved difficult because of the need to encourage the immune system to attack human cells instead of foreign antigens.
Tumours produce a protein that suppresses the immune response which could remove them and a research team led by Professor Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology at the college, used this fact to produce the vaccine.
It is hoped that the vaccine would allow the introduction of specialist white blood cells, known as killer T cells, to target the cancer cells.
However, researchers at John Hopkins are trying a different approach and have identified the gene that causes an increased hereditary risk of pancreatic cancer.