Has the world already seen the first successful anti-cancer vaccine? Probably, and all thanks to animal research.
The Daily Telegraph ran an interesting article on a luncheon to honor Prof. Baruch Lumberg. Lumberg was instrumental in the creation of a vaccine to fight Hepatitis B. In fact, Lumberg won the 1976 Nobel Prize for medicine and has recently written a book, Hepatitis B: The Hunt for a Killer Virus, about his efforts to find a vaccine for the disease.
But the Hepatitis B vaccine should be — and apparently is — an anti-cancer vaccine as well. Hepatitis B plays a major role in causing liver cancer. As many as 85 percent of liver cancer cases are believed to be caused by the virus.
So widespread use of the Hepatitis B vaccine should result in declining liver cancer incidence. And in places where Hepatitis B was a major problem, that in fact has happened. In Taiwan, for example, the incidence of liver cancer has declined by half since the introduction of the Hepatitis B vaccine.
Lumberg first isolated the Hepatitis B virus in 1967 with epidemiological studies in human beings, but it was animal research that relied largely on guinea pigs and non-human primates that led to the development and approval of a vaccine for the disease in the early 1980s.
The world’s first cancer vaccine. Roger Highfield, The Daily Telegraph (London), June 26, 2002.