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Leukaemia vaccine to be tested on humans

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A vaccine to stop leukaemia reoccuring after chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant is to have its first human trial in the next few months.

Scientists at King’s College London are to test the drug, which boosts the immune system, on patients with the most common adult form of the cancer, called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

It should identify and attack any remaining cancer cells after the patient has undergone treatment, stopping the risk of a relapse.

The treatment is created by genetically modifying the patient’s own cells in a laboratory to discover leukaemia cells, and then reinserterd into the body. It took 20 years to develop using funding from the Department of Health, Elimination of Leukaemia Fund and Leukaemia Research Fund.

Professor Farzin Farzaneh, professor of molecular medicine at King’s College London, said: “The treatment effectively tricks the immune system into thinking the leukaemia cells are foreign cells even though they are the patient’s own. The patient’s immune system then destroys these cells.”

Results of the vaccine research are due to be publish in March, in Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy.

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