• Sunday, April 21, 2024

HEALTH

British researchers develop first vaccine for lung cancer

Lung cancer is the deadliest common cancer in Britain, with around 50,000 cases and 35,000 deaths every year. (Representative image: iStock)

By: Vibhuti Pathak

British researchers are making a breakthrough in lung cancer treatment by developing the world’s first vaccine for the disease.

This vaccine, called LungVax, is being created by a team of scientists from the University of Oxford, the Francis Crick Institute, and University College London (UCL). It uses similar technology to the highly successful Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Lung cancer is a major cause of death around the world, and Britain is no exception. It is the deadliest common cancer in the UK, with around fifty thousand cases and thirty-five thousand deaths each year.

Shockingly, seven out of ten lung cancer cases are directly linked to smoking. People most at risk are those between the ages of 55 years and 74 years who currently smoke or have a history of smoking.

In a significant development for lung cancer treatment, British researchers are producing an initial batch of 3,000 doses of a novel vaccine called LungVax.

LungVax works by training the body’s immune system to identify and destroy cancerous cells. It achieves this by utilising a strand of DNA to target specific proteins, known as neoantigens, that appear on the surface of lung cancer cells.

This vaccine targets specific proteins known as neoantigens, which act as red flags on the surface of lung cancer cells. Lung cancer is the most deadly common cancer in Britain, claiming the lives of around 35,000 people annually out of the roughly 50,000 diagnosed cases.

Professor Mariam Jamal-Hanjani of UCL and the Francis Crick Institute, who will lead the LungVax clinical trial, emphasises the importance of this research, she says “fewer than 10 per cent of people with lung cancer survive their disease for 10 years or more. That must change,”

Professor Jamal-Hanjani also highlights that this vaccine serves as a valuable addition to existing efforts, such as lung health checks, which aim to detect lung cancer at an earlier stage in high-risk individuals.

There is promising potential for this vaccine. The researchers believe it could be effective against 90 per cent of lung cancers.

However, Professor Jamal-Hanjani stresses that LungVax is not intended to replace quitting smoking as the primary method of reducing lung cancer risk.

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