A Tampa-based company has reportedly developed a cancer vaccine that is designed to target specific parts of the disease in patients, bringing us one huge step closer to an overall cure.

Morphogenesis says their mission is “to change the way chronic diseases are treated by engaging the innate intelligence of the body,” and they’re starting with skin cancer.

“This is a therapeutic cancer vaccine, so it’s not preventative that we normally think of for an infectious disease. So this is actually a therapy to treat many different types of cancer,” Morphogenesis CEO Patricia Lawman told Tampa’s WFLA News Channel 8.

As for how the vaccine works, Lawman explained:

“So basically we’re taking all of the smarts of the immune system, of the body, and bringing it to bear on a person’s tumor. So what we do is basically put a bacterial gene, it’s not a bacteria, it’s not a live bacteria, it’s a single gene that we put into a patient’s tumor cells.

“This is expressed as a protein on the surface of the tumor cells, like a beacon, if you will, and it brings in the immune system. And once the immune system sees our bacterial beacon it can then expose all of the patient’s tumor antigens that are in that person’’ tumor.”

Morphogenesis says the vaccine is still a few years away from being made available to the public and will first need to go through clinical trials, which are coming soon.

“So we’re starting out small. First in-human is six patients. This will be testing our vaccine alone in melanoma. And then our next study will be…that will be 20 patients testing our vaccine alone,” Lawman said. “And starting next year we’ll be having a phase two study which will be then 160 patients and we’ll be testing all three of those diseases, our vaccine plus probably a checkpoint inhibitor.”

Lawman said companion animals with naturally-occurring diseases were successfully treated with the vaccine. “So we’re confident that the safety profile of this vaccine will carry over into humans,” she said.

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