A new "highly promising" vaccine therapy, derived from rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD), could offer hope for colorectal cancer sufferers, according to University of Otago researchers.
This therapy uses harmless viral shells derived from RCD, also known as rabbit haemorrhagic disease, to deliver immunising tumour proteins and the same approach could also be applied to a wide range of human cancers, researchers say.
Sarah Young, an immunologist in the university pathology department, one of the O-Zone group of award-winning young Otago University scholars, told the Otago Daily Times the cancer-related research, involving virus-like particles (VLP), was very promising.
"This therapy is like gold in our hands. It's worked as well if not better than any other therapy I've ever seen."
Mice with induced tumours usually lived no longer than 40 days, but 60 percent of them lived for 80 days or more after a single dose of the VLP vaccine, the researchers found.
I have a number of past students who chose to enter into working in research departments rather than clinical vet medicine. It is not an area that suits many of the graduates, but when I have been invited to tour the departments where it is occurring, I have been impressed with their professionalism and empathy to the animals.
Research with animals is an area that is strictly monitored under the NZ Animal Welfare Act; every plan, protocol and potential effect or outcome is documented and discussed before permission is granted to start , but the topic will always create emotion in the eyes of the public because the concept of animal testing can only conjure images of potential 'suffering".
Whenever I have attended any conferences where ethics and the use of animals is discussed, there will be protestors, bomb threats and
abuse. Even though our department does not perform any research on animals, we are regulated to ensure we comply with the law when we use them in any teaching capacity, so are well aware of the restrictions and codes of conduct demanded.
Occasionally I read about something that holds a lot of promise to the future health and survival of humans - and I am reminded of why research is performed on animals again.
What do you think?