Researchers have developed a nano-vaccine for melanoma. the most aggressive form of skin cancer.

In animal experiments, the novel treatment has been proven effective in preventing melanoma and in treating tumors and metastases associated with the disease.

Basal cell carcinoma is generally a slow-growing and painless form of skin cancer that starts in the top layer of the skin and develops on areas that are regularly exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation.
Too much exposure to the sun can lead to melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Reuters

Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues used nanoparticles of biodegradable polymer that are individually packed with two peptides expressed in melanoma cells. These were then injected into mice with melanoma.

Satchi-Fainaro explained that the nanoparticles acted like vaccines used for viral diseases. They stimulate the immune system, which in turn learn to identify and attack the cells that contain the melanoma cells.

After receiving the nano-vaccine, the immune system of the immunized mice will attack melanoma cells if and when they appear in their body.

The researchers examined the effectiveness of the vaccine and found that it prevented melanoma in immunized mice. The nanoparticles used to treat primary tumors along with immunotherapy treatments also significantly delayed the progression of the disease and extended the lifespan of the treated mice.

The researchers likewise found that the nano-vaccine can be used to treat melanoma brain metastases.

“We show that combining cancer nanovaccines with an anti-PD-1 antibody (αPD-1) for immunosuppression blockade and an anti-OX40 antibody (αOX40) for effector T-cell stimulation, expansion and survival can potentiate the efficacy of melanoma therapy,” the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology on Aug. 5.

Satchi-Fainaro said that their research opens the door to the vaccine approach for treating melanoma, even in the most advanced stages of the deadly disease. The researcher also said that the work could pave the way for the development of other nano-vaccines for other forms of cancer.

"We believe that our platform may also be suitable for other types of cancer and that our work is a solid foundation for the development of other cancer nano-vaccines,” Satchi-Fainaro said in a university press release.

Melanoma rates have been increasing for the last 30 years. Figures from the American Cancer Society show that the United States will have 96,480 newly diagnosed cases of melanoma in 2019. About 7,230 people are expected to die from the disease.