At some point everyone in this country will be affected by cancer in some way. But, there's encouraging news in the fight against the disease.
CNN reports that researchers in New York have discovered a possible vaccine, and it happened by accident.
Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute have created a vaccine designed to kill cancer cells in the body, and prevent them from coming back ... launching a new clinical trial that will harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer.
The vaccine, produced in a special chamber at Roswell that strictly controls temperature and atmospheric gases, will use a special protein that will recruit an army of killer immune cells that seek out and destroy cancer.
What is truly remarkable about this discovery, is that the vaccine is designed to train the body's defenses to never forget how to kill cancer cells.
Roswell Park Immunologist Dr. Protul Shrikant discovered that a drug called Rapamycin , used for many years to prevent rejection of organ transplants, also produces immune cells that, in a sense, have memory, always remembering that cancer cells are bad, and should be attacked and killed.
He said the discovery was quite accidental.
"It is kind of serendipitous because we just tested this concept that came from nowhere in a laboratory setting, and it did work. It's hard to imagine," says Dr. Shrikant tells CNN.
Eighteen to twenty patients fighting many different forms of cancer will be chosen for the first phase of clinical trials.
Nancy Holiman, a fund raiser at Roswell Park, who has fought three types of cancer, most recently of the breast, hopes she will be among them. She wants the potential protection the vaccine offers.
"To know that you have something in your system and have this memory and be there long term, I think would just give you, just another - help you with your peace of mind," says Holiman.
If the first phase of clinical trials is successful, larger studies will be conducted.
Roswell Park Cancer Institute came forward to say that since the big announcement, they have been swamped with calls, emails and even walk-in inquiries regarding the clinical trials. On their website they have posted, "... we ask that you ONLY contact the ASK-RPCI information center. To reach the ASK-RPCI information center, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724), Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the trial is also included on the Roswell Park website at www.roswellpark.org. Thank you for both your cooperation and your interest in this important new study."
It may be several years before the vaccine could be marketed, if it's proven to be a cancer fighter for the life of the patient.
(This story is from CNN .)