Researchers are ready to begin clinical trials on a vaccine for cancer. The vaccine was produced at Cornell University and while this may be just one small step in the fight to cure the disease, our Tamara Lindstrom tells us why it is a great stride in cancer research.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- The idea behind the cancer vaccine is simple.
"What we're trying to do is basically trigger an immune response. The body doesn't normally react to tumors, because if it did, the tumor would actually disappear," said Professor Carl Batt, director of the production facility.
The protein that may help fight cancer was developed at Cornell University. The school has partnered with the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research to establish a production facility in Ithaca. And now the fruit of their labor is ready to be tested on humans.
It's taken 10 years and about $12 million to get to this point, but the professor says this is only the beginning.
"We're in the very early phases of clinical trials. So success at this point is not measured by how long a patient lives or how much their tumor shrinks. Right now, these clinical trials are mainly trying to look at a question as to how we can make a vaccine," Batt said.
What's unique about this vaccine is where it was developed.
"The challenge is that taking things from the laboratory into a clinical trial is a very expensive process and part of the reason why this partnership was established is just to try to reduce the cost of bringing materials to clinical trials. This is, as far as we know, the only facility located in an academic institution. It's staffed and run and sort of the energy comes from students at Cornell University," Batt said.
And this lab is able to risk failure to better the science, unlike pharmaceuticals that rely on money from investors to continue their work.
"And the investors want to see success. And so they are highly reluctant to take certain products forward unless they are sure it's going to be successful. So it's not driven entirely by this is the best possible product, this is the best possible science. It has to do more with almost market issues," Batt said.
Issues professors and students don't have to deal with.
The first trials of the vaccine will be held in New York City and Buffalo. It will be tested on patients with melanoma and cervical cancer.