New cancer vaccine shows 100% success rate in mice

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- In a recent study, a group of researchers tested a new cancer vaccine against melanoma.

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer out there. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 9,000 people die from the disease every year. Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute of California and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center did a drug discovery search with over 100,000 compounds.

Through testing, they found one that stimulated immune system into action in mice.

"It hits a protein one the surface of these cells that's traditionally there for infections," said Steven Albert Johnston with the Biodesign Center for Innovations in Medicine. "So, when you get an infection and it stimulates this receptor on the cell, it tells the cells that somethings foreign out there that we better react to, and boosts the immune system up."

The adjuvant compound, called diprovocim, was tested along with the cancer immunotherapy drug Anti Pd L1, and another compound. The test showed a 100% success rate in treating melanoma in mice.

"There is a lot of interest now in taking these checkpoint inhibitors that are the rage in revolutionizing treating cancer, like Pd1 is what they used, and combining it with something else," said Johnston.

But it will take time to see how this new cancer vaccine may affect humans, but there is another step toward the right direction, as Johnston and his team at ASU are working to get a diagnostic for early detection of melanoma, by just taking a drop of blood.

"We've collected samples from a big study of women who got a very early diagnosis of melanoma, but the blood samples were up to two years before they were diagnosed, and so, we are trying to see how far out that we can still detect," said Johnston. "It was six months before they were diagnosed. We have no trouble detecting that they had Melamona."