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American researchers have conducted the first phase of a clinical trial for testing a vaccine which may treat colorectal cancer. The results were published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer.


They are only in the first trial phase but the results are already highly promising. Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, tested a vaccine developed to treat colorectal cancer on around ten patients. The results of the clinical trial were published April 23, 2019 in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (1).


T-cell activation

10 patients with stage I and II colon cancer participated in the trial and received the vaccine. The participants had blood tests 30, 90 and 180 days after the injection, and the results showed that the vaccine activated a "T"-cell. This cell is believed to have the ability to destroy cancerous cells.


The GUCY2C molecule targeted

One molecule expressing the colorectal tumor was targeted in particular. The researchers labeled GUCY2C in order to differentiate the healthy cells from the cancerous cells (2,3), thus enabling the vaccine to activate the immune system against them. Thus, the combination formed by GUCY2C and the vaccine which reinforces the immune reaction, destroyed the tumor.


A vaccine for other cancers?

Cancers other than colorectal tumors express the GUCY2C molecule, especially stomach, esophageal and pancreatic cancer (4). The researchers would therefore like to develop another more complete version of the vaccine to treat other types of cancer.



(1) Snook, A.E. and al. Split tolerance permits safe Ad5-GUCY2C-PADRE vaccine-induced T-cell responses in colon cancer patients. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. 2019 Apr 23;7(1):104. Doi : 10.1186/s40425-019-0576-2.

(2) Magee MS, Abraham TS, Baybutt TR, et al. Human GUCY2C-Targeted Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-Expressing T Cells Eliminate Colorectal Cancer Metastases. Cancer Immunol Res. 2018;6(5):509–516. doi:10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-16-0362.

(3) Akaa A.A. et al. Guanylate cyclase C as a target for prevention, detection, and therapy in colorectal cancer. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2017 May; 10 (5):549-557. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2017.1292124.

(4) Marszalowicz G.P. et al. GUCY2C lysosomotropic endocytosis delivers immunotoxin therapy to metastatic colorectal cancer. Oncotarget. 2014 Oct 15;5(19):9460-71. DOI : 10.18632/oncotarget.2455.

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