Researchers in Texas are using a cold virus and a protein produced in cancer patients to create what they hope could be a more effective cancer treatment than those available today.
Though the procedure has only been tested on a few humans, doctors say they hope to train a person's own body to kill cancerous tumors.
In the process, a drug called Advexin (search) is added to a component of a cancer patient's blood called dendritic cells, which are the commanders of the immune system. That drug has a mix of a protein called p53 and deactivated cold virus. In the lab, the dendritic cells learn that p53 protein (search) is the enemy. Then blood is injected back into the patient and the activated dendritic cells tell the body's immune system to attack all p53 protein, which is found in cancerous cells.
The process has worked on animals and has been tested on three human patients so far. Patients say it works better than chemotherapy, but it's too early to tell the end results.
If the treatments are successful, doctors could test it on a larger group of cancer patients within the next several years.
"I believe that within five years, we will make enough progress that we'll offer a vaccine for a broad group of patients," said Dr. Dimitry Gabrilovich, a vaccine researcher at the Moffit Cancer Center.
Although the treatment only targets lung cancer, breast cancer or highly developed prostate cancer, it's a start that could open a lot of doors to research possibilities.
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Michael Tobin joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Chicago-based correspondent.