I haven't seen much on this, but if the BBC is reporting it, it's good enough for me.
Christie Hospital in Manchester (U.K.) is testing a genetically engineered vaccine that could wipe out a broad range of cancerous tumors and cells.
In pretrials, that've already seen "spectacular" results with lung and brain lesions. The initial 10-patient trial involved patients with lymphoma. And dude, once those cancer cells get into the lymphatic system and have a party it gets very, very ugly.
[Not a precise explanation for lymphatic system, but close enough for laymen: It's a system that's closely interrelated with the cardiovascular system. Although the cardiovascular system is a "closed system," as part of its regular and normal operation protein-rich fluid "leaks" from it while the blood rushes around your tissues. The lymphatic system basically collects this fluid, filters the contaminents out of it, and returns the fluid back to the cardiovascular system, which means that without the lymphatic system, your cardiovascular system wouldn't work. It also is the home of all those white blood cells responsible for fighting infection, disease, or any abnormal cells — such as potentially cancerous cells — that need to be eliminated. This means that without the lymphatic system, you basically don't have an immune system. In short, when the lymphatic system is fucked, you're pretty much fucked.]
The short explanation: the researchers at Christie Hospital have figured out a way to genetically modify T-cells in such a way that the T-cells can actually "recognize" the cancer cells and kill them before injecting them back into the patient. In short, this could potentially "teach" your body to recognize cancer cells and kill them.
[Not a precise explanation for T-cells, but close enough for laymen: T-cells travel around the lymphatic and cardiovascular systems. Think of them as guard-dogs against disease. They "see" infection or invasion or something that doesn't look right, bind with the "not right," and directs the immune response on the order of "faster pussycat, kill, kill." If the T-cells don't work, your immune system can't recognize a "threat" and deal with it.]
You know that cliche of give a man a fish vs. teaching him how to fish?
If this works, we're talking about the biological equivalent for T-cells.
Researchers at Christie are saying that we could very well have a "cure" for some very deadly cancers in 5 years.
Read that again: 5 years.
As in: In our lifetime.
On days like today, I really believe in the awesomeness of my fellow human beings.
Christie Hosptial is seeking donations to help fund the reseach effort. Special equipment and special training is needed for the cancer trials. If you are feeling generous and if you can give anything, click here.
ETA: Here's more information from November 2005, a PDF of a cancer research newsletter from April 2006, and a 2006 fundraising appeal (scroll down).
I must get back to work now (busy day), but I just had to post this one.