BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A promising new technique for developing a
cancer vaccine has earned researchers in the University at
Buffalo's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences the
university's first grant from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable
The $100,000 grant to the school's Department of Microbiology
and Immunology will be used for research viewed as a key to
eventual human clinical trials of a vaccine for fighting existing
The Mary Kay Ash Foundation, founded in 1996, is committed to
eliminating cancers affecting women by supporting top medical
scientists who are searching for a cure for breast, uterine,
cervical and ovarian cancers. The late Mary Kay Ash was founder and
chairman emeritus of Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Margaret W. Paroski, M.D., UB interim vice president for health
affairs and interim dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical
Sciences, said that the university, like the Mary Kay Ash
Foundation, has made breast-cancer research a priority.
"Mary Kay Ash developed a cosmetic company known for its
excellent products and the opportunity it provided women in the
workforce to have flexible work hours and a better quality of
life," Paroski said. "Her concern for women continues to be
reflected through her charitable foundation, which funds research
on cancers that affect women. We are delighted to be the recipient
of this generous grant."
Jennifer A. McDonough, vice president for university
advancement, said that foundation support is crucial to research at
"We at UB are grateful to the Mary Kay Ash Foundation not only
for its generous grant to this research, but for partnering with us
in this important effort to halt the devastating effects of
cancer," McDonough said.
Richard B. Bankert, professor in UB's Department of Microbiology
and Immunology, said he and colleagues already have met with
success using their new approach on tumors in animal models,
He explained that the technique involves injecting biodegradable
microspheres that release cytokines, or growth factors, directly
into a single nodule of a tumor. This "activates the mobilization
of the inflammatory white blood cells locally, resulting in the
killing of tumor cells in the nodule," he explained, and also
creates "a systemic immune response that will go on to recognize
and kill other tumors" in the animal.
"The dead and dying tumor cells release antigens into the
circulation that stimulate a potent systemic anti-tumor immune
response in the host's immunocompetent cells," Bankert said. "The
systemically activated tumor-specific immunocompetent cells kill
tumor cells at distant sites, in untreated metastatic tumor
nodules, and establish a long-term tumor protective immunity that
is expected to prevent the recurrence of the tumor."
The approach of the UB researchers differs from most previous
attempts to develop cancer vaccines that have focused on the
injection of either dead tumor cells or tumor-cell components
(antigens) under the skin of mice or patients, according to
Bankert said he and his colleagues developed and tested this
novel vaccination protocol for human lung cancer, and now will test
the in situ tumor vaccination strategy on human breast tumors using
a human/mouse chimeric model developed at UB. Study results "are
expected to help in the design of, and the rationale for, human
clinical trials for in situ vaccination of breast-cancer patients,"