35 dogs with bladder cancer were treated with a cancer vaccine. This doubled the average survival rate of the dogs. The tumour disappeared, became smaller, or stopped growing. The vaccine did not cause any side effects. "An important step towards developing a cancer vaccine for humans", says researcher and Professor of Experimental Oncology and Angiogenesis Arjan Griffioen.

Article published in Nature Communications

The journal Nature Communications published this result of the study by Amsterdam UMC and a veterinary oncology centre. Amsterdam UMC researchers Arjan Griffioen, Judy van Beijnum, Else Huijbers, Athanasios Blanas, Karlijn van Loon and Parvin Akbari were involved in this publication.

Protein found exclusively in tumour blood vessels

In 2006, the research team found a protein that is exclusively present in tumour blood vessels. Since then, the team has been finding out what the role of this protein is. Griffioen explains: "First of all, this protein makes it possible for new blood vessels to form. And secondly, the protein shuts down the immune system, because the tumour only experiences difficulties with immune cells. Both the new blood vessels and the shutdown of the immune system allow the tumour to grow faster."

Vaccine effective against multiple types of cancer

The hypothesis was that a therapy directed against this protein could efficiently inhibit cancer. After all, the protein is only found in the tumour blood vessels. In the laboratory, the team developed a vaccine against this protein, which has proven to be effective.

Griffioen: "The vaccine proved effective in test animals against colorectal cancer, skin cancer and brain tumours. And now it has also proved effective in dogs that came to the vet with bladder cancer."