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Swedish research puts stomach cancer vaccine in sight

TT/The Local · 30 Dec 2009, 10:02

Published: 30 Dec 2009 10:02 GMT+01:00

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Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that causes ulcers, tricks the immune system so that the body can't defend itself against the infection.

“By tricking the immune cells, the bacteria can keep the infection – and itself – alive,” Malin Hansson, a PhD student at Sahlgrenska, told TT news agency.

Around half of the earth's population are carriers of the Helicobacter pylori. Most people aren't affected by the bacteria at all, but it some individuals it can lead to ulcers or stomach cancer.

Research has shown that the immune system has a powerful reaction to the bacteria, which somehow entices the immune cells to remain at the site of the infection rather than travelling to the lymph nodes to activate more immune cells. The result is a chronic infection.

“Quite often it means ulcers and gastritis, which in the worst case can develop into cancer,” Hansson explained.

Her research also indicates that the antibodies that can protect the body against Helicobacter pylori are drawn to the infected tissue by a signalling molecule called MEC.

Many patients suffering from stomach cancer have very low levels of antibodies.

“If antibodies really protect against the development of stomach cancer, it should be possible to develop a vaccine that increases the excretion of MEC, which in turn draws more antibodies to the (infected) tissue,” Hansson said.

Her research has received international attention.

“This is basic research. But in the long term, it might mean that we can vaccinate against diseases such as ulcers and stomach cancer,” she added.

Story continues below…

Australian researchers Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of Helicobacter pylori, which led to the treatment of ulcers with antibiotics.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:56 December 30, 2009 by sherkovic
Thank you for the news The Local. It would be really nice that you also put the original reference of the published study in future for people interested in relevant field to have a look at.
11:14 December 30, 2009 by David Landes
@sherkovic Good point. We've now added a link to the dissertation below our article. Here it is again just in case: http://gupea.ub.gu.se/dspace/handle/2077/21416

Happy reading!

David Landes

The Local
17:39 December 30, 2009 by Dogs_Gonads
This is good news.As I have been suffering from duodenal ulcers on and off for the last 18 years.And HBP.Fingers crossed some comes of the studies.
17:58 December 30, 2009 by Suntiger
A small step, but all steps forward are good. Eventually we'll hopefully get a full-blown cure. :)
21:45 December 31, 2009 by jag2009
I bet this don't happen. False-feeding hope again.
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