UK vaccine makes strides in melanoma treatment

LONDON — A vaccine being tested in the United Kingdom has helped been shown to help some patients fully recover from melanoma, even in its advanced stages, The Telegraph of London reported April 11.

It attacks tumor cells, leaving healthy cells undamaged and carries agents that boost the body's response to skin cancer.

"Our study shows we may have a cure for some advanced melanoma patients and a drug which has real benefits for others,” said Dr. Howard Kaufman, of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center.

"This will save thousands of lives a year."

Over the past 25 years, rates of melanoma in Britain have risen faster than any other common cancer and 2,000 die from the disease every year.

A study of 50 patients with advanced melanoma who had been given no more than nine months to live found that 16 percent of them recovered completely with the vaccine. They have been disease-free for more than four years.

Another 28 percent saw the size of their tumors more than halved. It is hoped the licensing will be "fast-tracked" and it will be on the market within five years.

Melanoma is now the most common cancer in young adults ages 15 to 34, with 1,041 new cases diagnosed every year in the United Kingdom.