A husband and wife team in Tampa have made progress on a years-long project to design a “cancer vaccine”.
Scientists Dr. Michael and Dr. Patricia Lawman founded their research company, Morphogenesis, in 1995. Morphogenesis focuses on gene and cell therapy research and development.
“Our mission is to change the way chronic diseases are treated by engaging the innate intelligence of the body,” they say. (1)
The Lawman’s adapted this principle of harnessing the body’s natural intelligence for their cancer therapy research. They have developed a vaccine, dubbed ImmuneFx, which alters the proteins of cancer cells in order to make them easier for the immune system to target them.
How Does ImmuneFx Work?
“Cancer cells mutate and change so fast, it can be difficult for the immune system to spot them,” says Dr. Patricia Lawman. “So the vaccine uses cell and gene therapy to force those cells to express a specific bacterial antigen on their surface, making them easy for the immune system to identify.” (2)
More specifically, ImmuneFx involves altering exosomes in cancer cells. “Exosomes are small vesicles secreted by nearly all cells. Increasingly, exosomes are being recognized as potential therapeutics because they play an important role in intercellular communication,” explains Dr. Evren Alici, who led a partnership between Morphogenesis and the Cell and Gene Therapy Group, Department of Medicine, Huddinge at Karolinska Institutet (KI). (3)
“We think the body can do everything better than we can come up with,” Lawman says. “So we try not to mess with it” (1)
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According to the Lawmans’ website, cancer vaccines offer a more focused and “less detrimental” approach, compared to other cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, and allow a better quality of life for patients. (2)
Related Reading: 7 Lifestyle Cancer Prevention Tips
Advancing Trials for ImmuneFx
So far, the Morphogenesis team has found a promising success rate during preliminary animal trials conducted in 2016.
13-year-old Blue Tick Coonhound, Stephen, made headlines at that time for becoming one of the experimental patients for his aggressive lymph node cancer. (4) While Stephen’s fur parents were grateful for the possibility of spending more time with him, even then ImmuneFx had promise to extend to human trials.
Approximately 430 cats, dogs, and horses who had been diagnosed with cancer were given the experimental vaccine and monitored. Results indicated that the vaccine was not only safe but involved in a significant reduction in tumors. (2)
Now, Morphogenesis has announced their approval to begin clinical trials with ImmuneFx for humans with cutaneous melanoma, one of the most common types of skin cancer.
Patricia Lawman is optimistic that this vaccine will be useful not only for melanoma but for cancer in general.
“If we’re successful, this new type of immunotherapy will have far-reaching implications beyond myeloma, meaning we can treat virtually any type of cancer by generating a patient-specific vaccine right in the patient,” she says. (3)
Still, the team has a long road ahead of them to confirm the safety and effectiveness of their cancer vaccine, as well as to receive FDA approval.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
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