The research team at the Dr. Rath Research Institute in California Institute of Natural Health Education has developed a cancer vaccine that effectively inhibits tumor growth. This peptide vaccine is targeted by a specific enzyme called metalloproteinase (MMP). Regardless of the type of cancer, tumor growth, metastasis, and formation of blood vessels (angiogenesis) are inseparable from this enzyme. The Dr. Rath team pointed out that the experimental mice were vaccinated with a peptide vaccine containing MMP-2 and MMP-9 specific sequences and subsequently challenged with melanoma cells, and the results showed that compared with the unvaccinated control group. The tumor volume was reduced by an average of about 76%. It is worth noting that some vaccinated animals did not develop any cancer.
Cancer development and therapeutic cancer vaccines
“How long can the vaccineslive?” This is probably one of the first questions that go through the minds of many cancer patients when they receive the diagnosis. At the beginning of the 21st century, cancer remains the leading cause of death in many parts of the world, exceeding cardiovascular mortality alone. While recent development of new therapeutic approaches to cancer offer hope for increased life expectancy for some forms of cancer, the results are moderate at best and the prohibitive costs of these therapies exclude them as an answer to the global cancer epidemic. Despite these recent developments, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are still standard cancer treatments in most countries. Thus, there is an urgent need for new effective, safe and affordable prevention and treatment approaches to the cancer epidemics.
Overview of MMPs
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), also known as matrix proteins, hydrolyze components of the extracellular matrix. These proteinases play a central role in many biological processes, such as embryogenesis, normal tissue remodeling, wound healing and angiogenesis, and diseases such as atheroma, arthritis, cancer, and tissue ulcers. Essentially all types of cancer use similar invasion and metastasis pathways, including enzymatic destruction of connective tissue by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). In the pathogenesis of cancer, abnormally elevated levels of MMP enzymes enable tumor cells to digest the surrounding extracellular matrix, invade the adjacent connective tissue, and metastasize through the endothelial layer of nearby capillaries to transfer to other organs. MMPs are zinc-dependent endopeptidases that initiates the breakdown of the extracellular matrix (ECM). This mechanism is not limited to cancer, but is a fundamental biological mechanism involved in a variety of physiological processes such as embryonic development, reproduction, tissue remodeling, etc. Under healthy conditions, this process remains under strict metabolic control. However, in cancer, chronic inflammation and other pathological conditions, the elevated stromal activity of MMPs-in particular MMP-2 and MMP-9-escapes this metabolic regulation, resulting in uncontrolled extracellular matrix degeneration and disease-promoting progress. In cancer, such uncontrolled activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9 is essentially associated with all stages of the tumor process, including tumor growth, invasion and metastasis. In addition, MMPs promote vascular restructuring and tumor angiogenesis, a process essential to provide increased blood supply to the growing tumor. In essence, MMP activity is a critical determinant of cancer malignancy and patient prognosis. Earlier attempts to develop synthetic drugs against MMPs have failed due to serious side effects, and clinical trials using these drugs have to be terminated as soon as possible.
Importance of universal cancer peptide vaccine
Anti-MMP vaccines are expected to play a more effective and truly affordable role in the global fight against cancer compared to monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) or biosimilar molecules recently developed to combat cancer. While Mab/biosimilars are directed against one specific type of cancer, the anti-MMP vaccines can target all types of cancer at the same time. In addition, Mab/biosimilars usually require once or twice injections per month, but anti-MMP vaccines would require only once vaccination and may require booster immunity after several years. To avoid this valuable technology beyond the reach of most patients and countries, the Dr. Rath Research Institute has obtained patent protection for it in many countries. The Institute is looking to collaborate with public research institutions, government research organizations and other non-profit organizations to develop this promising technology to successfully treat, prevent and ultimately eliminate cancer. The researchers said “In our opinion, this perspective warrants an international scientific effort, supported by responsible governments and carried out by medical and scientific institutions committed to the goal of significantly reducing and eventually eliminating cancer as a threat to humanity.”
1, Roomi, M. W., Niedzwiecki, A., Rath, M., & Niedzwiecki, A. Peptide vaccines directed against human Metalloproteinases (MMPs) with anti-tumor efficacy in vitro and in vivo.
2. Deryugina, E. I., & Quigley, J. P. (2006). Matrix metalloproteinases and tumor metastasis. Cancer and Metastasis Reviews, 25(1), 9-34.
3. Finn, O. J. (2018). The dawn of vaccines for cancer prevention. Nature Reviews Immunology, 18(3), 183.