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Anti-cancer vaccine enters clinical research
Updated: 2004-11-23 00:37

A vaccine developed by Chinese scientists to restrain or even kill cancer cells was recently approved for clinical research at Shanghai hospitals.

The cancer vaccine seeks to trigger the body's own immune system to detect and kill cancer cells. The vaccine should particularly target liver cancer, the deadliest of all cancers that can kill an end-stage patient within 12 weeks, according to biologists with the Shanghai Zhangjiang Biotech Research Center.

"It's been patented in the United States and Australia," said a biologist with the center.

This is the first cancer vaccine independently developed by Chinese scientists to be patented abroad.

The vaccine has been approved by State Food and Drug Administration for clinical tests at several hospitals in Shanghai.

It will hopefully prolong cancer patients' lives by halting or even reversing tumor growth and has combined the advantages of a cancer vaccine and a monoclonal antibody, says Prof. Guo Yajun of the US University of Nebraska.

Guo also heads the international tumor research institute of the No. 2 Medical University of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, which has worked on the vaccine in collaboration with a Shanghai-based laboratory on animal cell engineering.

Cancer vaccine involves a technology to fuse the patient's own cancer cells with a strain of antigen cells. Clinical research conducted in several countries have proven such vaccines are effective in halting tumor growth, preventing relapse of cancer and overcoming the side-effects of chemotherapy and actinotheraphy.

Cancer has become the biggest killer of China's urban dwellers, according to Sun Yan, an expert with Beijing Cancer Hospital affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

 Ministry of Health statistics showed that the death rate from malignant tumors grew by 29.42 percent in the 20 years between the 1970s and the 1990s. The nation registered some 2 million cancer patients in 2000, with around 1.5 million dying of such illnesses in the same year.

 Cancer prevention and treatment has become a global issue and has drawn the attention of worldwide health authorities, medical researchers and pharmaceutical producers.

 Many world famous life science researchers and developers are co-operating with their Chinese counterparts in a bid to find the most effective anti-cancer medicines, said Sun.

 Data from the State Food and Drug Administration indicated that the sales of anti-cancer drugs reached 1.2 billion US dollars last year and are expected to reach 1.7 billion US dollars next year.

 Chinese doctors have successfully integrated traditional Chinese medicine with modern medicines in the treatment of cancer and that has shown satisfactory results.

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