Oregon State University Researchers Developing a Vaccine against Skin Cancer

Oregon State University researchers are trying to stimulate the production of the protein Thioredoxin Reductase 1 (TR1) which has antioxidant properties for the skin. Their goal is to develop a vaccine that can help patients strengthen their defenses against skin cancer.



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Reducing oxidative stress in the skin caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation with a messenger RNA vaccine. This is what researchers at Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy are proposing. The treatment could promote the production of the Thioredoxin Reductase 1 protein in skin cells, reducing the risk of UV-induced cancers, including malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

This vaccine developed by these scientists was tested in mouse models to study the role of the “TR1” protein in the body and the stability of skin cells. The study, whose results were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, points out that messenger RNA vaccines work by instructing cells to manufacture a particular protein. In the case of the melanoma vaccines, this would be the “TR1” protein.

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“After the mRNA is incorporated into the cell and the cellular machinery is set in motion, the cell should have high levels of antioxidants and be able to cope with oxidative stress and DNA damage caused by ultraviolet radiation,” explained Arup Indra, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at OSU and lead author of the study.

Modulating the body’s antioxidant system

According to the research team, a vaccine against melanoma could be developed only through the action of the “TR1” protein. However, the researchers did not rule out that other antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase or superoxide dismutase, could also play an important role.

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“Everything must be tested and validated in preclinical models. We need to make an mRNA vaccine and administer it topically or systemically, and then see how it boosts the body’s defenses. Clearly, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, but the possibilities are exciting for preventing different types of disease progression, including cancer, by modulating the body’s antioxidant system,” Indra said in a statement.


Thioredoxin Reductase 1 Modulates Pigmentation and Photobiology of Murine Melanocytes in vivo

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