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Leukemia Vaccine

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    Dear Friends,
    I have not posted in a while. Still cant get over my dad’s loss. I can’t stop thinking about him and feeling really low.

    Anyway, I am part of another AML group on Some one sent some info about a leukemia vaccine called Molldrem Vaccine being tested at MD Anderson in Houston.

    Thought I’ll pass the info over.



    Oh wow.. I am gonna look into this one. Never heard of it!!


    I believe Barbra has researched this.


    I have never heard of it. My question is if this vaccine is to prevent leukimia or does it play a role in recovering from leukimia. Thanks for the info. Alexa


    Glad to hear from you concern, I hope you find peace, I know it is never easy losing a loved one. THank you for thinking of us and passing on this information.


    I know there were some guidelines on the vaccine that I believe were confusing. I know at the point Barbra and Ron wanted to consider it, he did not qualify for one reason or another. I had not heard of it anywhere either and as far as I know Barbra got any information she had from MD Anderson.

    John in GR

    Thanks for the headsup. This stuff seems promising. Although the response rate is still low, the fact that the negative side effects appear to be minimal is huge. It would be nice to know more about the lifestyle, eating habits, etc of both the responders and nonresponders. Good stuff. Thanks much. Definitely worht watching, from what I can tell.


    B. Greene

    It sounds very promising and we would have jumped on it in a minute but did not qualify. This is somewhat like testing for a bone marrow match. I don’t have the paperwork in front of me but it requires I think, HLA 2 with at least one positive allele rod. Ron was HLA 1 so didn’t make it at all. This was on the Anderson, Moldern, vaccine. They were working on one at Hopkins but have heard no more on it. It was more complicated and over a long period of time. I also will add on the Texas vaccine. You must be in remission and/or have fewer than 10% blasts. This is where I think it becomes so important that the blood is checked by the smear so you do have the oportunity of making choices before it gets so far ahead that you have no where to go.


    Barbra I agree with you on the blood smears, If it wasn’t for our Doctor doing that this past fall Bob blast might have gone even higher then the 14% they got to. The month before the smear still seemed normal, but the next month Dr did not like what he saw and immediately did the BMB.
    at the same time Whites were increasing.


    Hi Concern, Thank you for the hopefull information.I printed out the detaled info you posted about the vaccine,and will take it with me back to the Moffett center, to ask the doctors about it.Thank you again. Kate

    John in GR

    This Moss Report about bacterial etiology dovetails perfectly with this vaccine concept because vaccines are used to treat bacterial infections, according to Jeff.


    If you are going to fight a war it is axiomatic that you need to know your enemy. Yet even now, more than thirty years after the war on cancer was declared, the disease remains largely a mystery.

    What is cancer? It may surprise you to know that scientists are far from clear on this most fundamental question. While research in the fields of molecular biology and genetics has yielded many clues concerning the way in which cancer cells grow and signal to one another, still there remains little agreement as to the exact origin – what scientists call the ‘pathogenesis’ – of cancer.

    This week I begin a two-part discussion of a groundbreaking piece of research which has shown that one particular type of cancer, stomach cancer, arises not from the stomach lining cells themselves, but as a result of the influx of bone marrow-derived stem cells into the tissues of the stomach lining. The role of chronic inflammation caused by a pre-existing bacterial infection is also elucidated in this research. The model of cancer causation that emerges from this work could change our understanding of cancer on a fundamental level and has wide-ranging implications for the future of cancer research as a whole.

    For thirty years I have been monitoring the field of cancer research and treatment, chronicling the advances and setbacks, the small triumphs and the many frustrations of the war on cancer.

    The fruit of my long involvement in this field is The Moss Reports, a comprehensive library of more than two hundred individual reports on specific cancer diagnoses. For cancer patients, a Moss Report represents an invaluable guide and handbook for the journey ahead.

    If you would like to order a Moss Report for yourself or someone you love, you can do so from our website,, or by calling Diane at 1-800-980-1234 (814-238-3367 from outside the US).

    We look forward to helping you.


    Gastric cancer originates from bone marrow-derived cells. So states a paper published in late 2004 by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), Worcester, MA. This paper provides a radically different view of how stomach cancer comes into existence and may change the way we view the origin of many other kinds of cancer as well.

    The scientists, headed by Prof. JeanMarie Houghton, MD, PhD of UMMS’s Gastroenterology Department, discovered an unexpected link between stomach cancer and a type of undifferentiated stem cell that originates in the bone marrow.

    They found that an infection with Helicobacter felis (a bacterium related to infectious Helicobacter pylori in humans) leads to an influx of bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMDCs), as the body tries to repair the injury caused by the infection. Prof. Houghton and her colleagues showed that this transformation of BMDCs is the event that actually sparks malignant tumors of the stomach.

    In the past, when trying to isolate the source of stomach cancer, scientists focused on damaged cells in the stomach lining. They naturally assumed that stomach cancer was caused by the transformation of normal gastric lining cells into malignant cells. And, indeed, when pathologists look at stomach cancer cells under the microscope, they see something that resembles a misshapen version of normal stomach cells.

    However, Prof. Houghton and her colleagues showed that it was these BMDCs, not the stomach cells themselves, that gave rise to cancer. This was an unexpected finding, and might cause a shift in thinking about the formation and progression not only of stomach cancer, but of several other kinds of cancer as well.

    “We have known for years that chronic inflammation causes cancer, yet we did not know precisely how,” said Prof. Houghton. “Tissue stem cells, which are long-lived cells within organs that act to repair and replenish cells, have long been thought of as targets for carcinogens and the source of cancer. We show that bone marrow-derived stem cells attempt to participate in repair but, under conditions of inflammation, are unable to behave normally and instead progress towards cancer. This dramatically changes the way we think about cancer. If this model applies to human cancer, we will need to revise our approaches to prevention and treatment.”

    Like other stem cells, BMDCs are pleuripotent – that is, they have the ability to develop into many tissue types. To do so in a normal manner, they require the right environment and the right signals. In an infected stomach, however, the environment itself is diseased; therefore, BMDCs mutate and begin to progress towards cancer.

    BMDCs have other cancer-like properties, including:

    · the capacity for unlimited growth
    · the ability to avoid apoptosis (programmed cell death) signals
    · an altered requirement for growth factors

    These properties give them a significant growth advantage, says Prof. Houghton, making them difficult to control once they have mutated.

    Daring New Model

    The authors propose what is a daring new model for the development of at least one major form of cancer.

    First, the Helicobacter organism infects the stomach lining and establishes a chronic infection, attended by inflammation. The local immune system is unable to cope successfully. This leads to repeated cycles of injury and repair. The body finally uses up the local supply of stem cells, which normally reside in tissues to cope with just such emergencies. These are in time overwhelmed and compromised by the infection (Anderson 2001)

    This exhaustion of the local “police force” calls forth a reserve of special “national guard” cells that have their base camp in the bone marrow. They are specially designed to deal with such persistent threats to health. These are the cells that Dr. Houghton has identified as the BMDC stem cells. They are drawn to, and then engraft themselves into, the beleaguered tissue. But the BMDCs, depending on environmental cues for development and differentiation, encounter an abnormal environment of conflicting growth signals. There follows a downward spiral of metaplasia (the conversion of normal to abnormal tissue); dysplasia (emergence of a precancerous growth); and finally carcinoma (frankly malignant cancer, capable of metastasizing).

    Elegant Experiment

    In these elegant experiments, scientists used the well established C57BL/6 mouse model of gastric cancer to test their hypothesis. In this experiment, C57BL/6 mice, which are susceptible to Helicobacter induced gastric cancer, had their native bone marrow destroyed by a lethal dose of irradiation. They were then rescued through transplantation of bone marrow from other mice.

    This new bone marrow had been genetically engineered to display one of two markers: a protein which fluoresces green, or a distinctive bacterial enzyme called beta-galactosidase which appears blue when stained. No other cells in the mouse’s body would pick up this distinctive stain. Additionally, male bone marrow was transplanted into female mice allowing cells to be tracked using detection of the male specific Y- chromosome.

    The stomachs of these mice were then infected with a strain of Helicobacter. After six to eight weeks, there was intense die off (apoptosis) of many of the mice’s stomach cells, and after about 20 weeks the glands lining the stomach started to stain blue. The number of such blue-staining cells increased dramatically and at one year, 90 percent of the cells within the area of the stomach where cancer forms had been replaced by blue-staining cells. Th
    ese cells were abnormal, showing signs of metaplasia, dysplasia or outright cancer.

    This paper, published in the influential journal Science, thus offers a new model for the origin (pathogenesis) of epithelial cancer. This is not inconsequential, for epithelial cancer is another name for carcinoma, the kind of cancer that affects any tissue covering bodily surfaces and cavities. This category includes not just stomach cancer, but breast, pancreas, colon, etc. – in other words, about 90 percent of all cancers.

    Many features of cancer cells become much clearer when viewed within the context of this new model, including their undifferentiated nature; their ability for self-renewal; their resistance to programmed cell death; and their tendency to metastasize and spread quickly. These are some of the key characteristics shared by stem cells and cancer cells.

    CAM Perspective

    From the perspective of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), this paper is extremely provocative. Let me offer a few observations:

    In their first sentence, the authors state that “the link between infection, chronic inflammation, and cancer has long been recognized.” But the theory that cancer can be caused by bacterial infection has not always been accepted so readily by medical authorities.

    In fact, many of the researchers in this field suffered instances of “intellectual suppression, particularly when they developed clinical applications,” according to Prof. David Hess of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, in his excellent book, Can Bacteria Cause Cancer? (1997).

    According to Prof. Hess, “This theory was supported by a rich alternative research tradition that involved at least fifty scientists and clinicians in a number of countries. Popular during the nineteenth century, the theory received continued support during the twentieth century as a minority tradition. Although the quality of the research is very uneven, some of the best of the research has been published in recognized, peer-reviewed scientific journals.” (ibid.) There were some fine scientists in this group – such as William B. Coley, MD, Virginia Livingston, MD, and Eleanor Alexander-Jackson, PhD – who provided rigorous demonstrations of the links between various bacteria and cancer.

    But the medical establishment essentially banished this theory from the conventional universe of shared ideas. For instance, the concept was severely criticized by Memorial Hospital pathologist James Ewing, MD, the most influential American pathologist of his day. In the first edition of his seminal work, Neoplastic Diseases (1919), Ewing wrote:

    “The parasitic [i.e., microbial] theory…appealed to the ancients, was tacitly accepted throughout the Middle Ages, was definitely argued by modern observers, and reached the height of its popularity as a scientific theory about 1895, but during the last fifteen years it has rapidly lost ground, and today few competent observers consider it a possible explanation” of cancer’s origins.

    Dr. Ewing rejected outright the work of Dr. Peyton Rous of the Rockefeller Institute, who showed, as early as 1911, that sarcoma in chickens could be transmitted by a virus. It took another 55 years for Peyton Rous to finally receive his well deserved Nobel Prize in Medicine precisely for this work.

    Similar skepticism greeted Dr. Barry J. Marshall of Perth, Australia, when he argued in the 1980s that Helicobacter could cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), dyspepsia and stomach ulcers. (It is now understood to also contribute to some forms of stomach cancers.) Marshall’s argument was repeatedly rejected out of hand. According to his wife, “The vast majority of the medical profession, not only in Australia but worldwide, considered Barry to be a quack and really were extremely dismissive for a number of years.”

    It is encouraging that a younger generation of scientists now regards the causative connection between microbes and cancer as non-controversial. But it also needs stating that for many decades, all theories of bacterial involvement in cancer were suppressed and only found refuge within the precincts of the CAM movement. This resulted in damage to the reputations of many fine researchers, a wrong that still needs to be corrected in the historical record.


    –Ralph W. Moss, PhD


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