Oral vaccine could fight source of stomach cancers

According to The Global Times in China, scientists in Chongqing believe they have created an oral vaccine that can combat stomach bacteria helicobacter pylori, which is strongly tied to the development of stomach cancer.

Zhao Honglin, a spokesman at the No. 3 Military Medical University, where the vaccine was developed, told the newspaper that, "It's the world's first vaccine against Hp."

Hp, a bacterium that is believed to be linked to the development of gastric and duodenal ulcers as well as stomach cancer, lives in various parts of the stomach and duodenum.

The bacteria may cause chronic inflammation that causes reductions in acid production and atrophy of the stomach lining, which can lead to gastric ulcers while increasing the risk for stomach cancer.

The vaccine, which has been shown in a clinical study involving 6,000 participants to stop about 72 percent of Hp-related infections, could be available by the end of 2011, according to the Global Times. The newspaper states that, according to the US National Institute of Health, between two and 20 percent of people infected with Hp develop gastric ulcers, which increase the risk of stomach cancer. In China, about 200,000 people die annually from stomach cancer.

If the vaccine is approved, the Global Times reports that it is believed the vaccine will offer immunity for between four to five years, and would cost about a third of what current Hp prevention methods currently costs.