University Of PittsburghInflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions including the colon and small intestine. A study from the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine claims that a tentative vaccine against an irregular protein discovered in a few tumors seems to have the potential to postpone the start of IBD and in turn avert progression to colon cancer.

Patients suffering from chronic inflammatory disorders like IBD seem to be at an elevated threat for developing cancer at the inflamed site. In other cases, genes that develop cancerous variations may activate inflammation. The vaccine created by the experts are directed against an irregular variant of a self-made cell protein known as MUC1, which seems to be changed and generated in excess in both IBD and colon cancer.

Senior author Olivera Finn, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Immunology, Pitt School of Medicine, commented, “Our experiments indicate that boosting the immune response against this protein early in the disease can delay IBD development, control inflammation and thereby reduce the risk of future cancers. These findings suggest also that the early stages of chronic inflammation might be considered a premalignant condition.”

The study authors examined transgenic mice that could impulsively develop IBD and then advance to colitis-associated colon cancer. They discovered that animals who received the vaccine appeared to illustrate the primary indications of IBD considerably later as compared to those in two control groups that did not receive the vaccine.

Microscopic assessment of the colon tissue appeared to exhibit less inflammation in the vaccinated mice and no sign of cancerous variations. Almost half of the animals in each of the control groups seemed to encompass proof of abnormal tissue and two suffered from colon cancer.

Dr. Finn mentioned, “The MUC1 vaccine seems to change the local environment from one that promotes cancer development to one that inhibits it. Certain immune cells that we usually see in the inflamed colon aren’t present, and that could make the surroundings less friendly for potentially cancerous cells that also are directly targeted by the vaccine for destruction.”

This study proposes that in the future the vaccine could be considered as part of the therapeutic regimen for IBD as well. The experimental vaccine has supposedly been examined in patients with colon and pancreatic cancer and is at present being investigated as a prevention measure in patients who encompass an elevated risk of contracting colon cancer.

The study was published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.