New Vaccine for The Most Common Cancer: Skin Cancer

According to research from Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy, a vaccination that stimulates the creation of a protein crucial to the skin’s antioxidant network might help people strengthen their resistance against skin cancer.

According to Arup Indra, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at OSU and the study’s leader, ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes oxidative stress, which raises the risk of skin malignancies like melanoma.

According to him, a messenger RNA vaccination that stimulated the creation of the protein TR1 in skin cells, similar to the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, might reduce the incidence of UV-induced malignancies and other skin diseases.

The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, in which Arup and associates employed a mouse model to investigate TR1’s function in skin cell health and stability.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most frequent cancer in the United States. Melanoma, the worst form of skin cancer, is caused by malignant cells forming in skin cells called melanocytes, which generate the pigment melanin,in control of skin color.

According to the CDC, UV radiation exposure is connected to the majority of occurrences of skin cancer. Sun exposure or tanning beds causes people to get darker because the body produces melanin to defend the body from burning.

Despite Public Awareness Attempts, Skin Cancer at Highest Point

Indra stated that despite attempts to raise public knowledge about melanoma warning signals and the hazards of excessive UV exposure, melanoma incidence continues to climb.
She adds that for more than 40 years, researchers have looked at dietary antioxidants as a possible source of low-cost, low-risk cancer prevention agents, but they haven’t always performed well in clinical trials, and in some cases have been harmful, necessitating the need to try to involve new chemoprevention agents like an mRNA vaccine.

Thioredoxin reductase 1 (TR1) is an enzyme that promotes a reduction process in which a chemical species obtains electrons, which is frequently part of a “redox” reaction in which another species is oxidized or loses electrons.

TR1 is an essential component of the antioxidant system in melanocytes. Antioxidants guard against reactive oxygen species, or ROS, which are on the lookout for electrons in cells and can harm DNA.

Melanocytes are under attack from ROS, not just from the sun but also from the pigment-making process, melanogenesis, which produces ROS. Antioxidants prevent oxidation by accelerating the transfer of electrons, thereby turning off a chain reaction that would otherwise harm numerous molecules in melanocytes and other cells.

RNA vaccines operate by commanding cells to produce a specific protein.It’s a harmless portion of the virus’ spike protein that causes an immune response in coronavirus vaccinations; it’d be TR1 in the suggested melanoma vaccine.

Antioxidants Shot

Indra added that following the absorption of the mRNA into the cell and the activation of the cell’s mechanism, the cell should have a high antioxidant level and be able to deal with oxidative stress and DNA damage caused by UV light. People who are at a higher risk of skin cancer, such as those who work outside in hot climes, should get shot once a year.

Researchers noticed more significant oxidative stress and DNA damage without TR1 despite the presence of other antioxidant proteins, so vaccination for TR1 alone, with no other antioxidants, could be adequate, he noted. However, according to Indra, other antioxidants such as glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase may also have a role.

He stated that everything has to be evaluated and verified in preclinical models.

The next step is to develop an mRNA vaccine, distribute it locally or systemically, and then track how it affects the body’s defenses. Even the attempt to prevent skin cancer is only scratching the surface, but the potential for avoiding disease development by modifying the body’s antioxidant system is fascinating.

Tonia Nissen
Based out of Detroit, Tonia Nissen has been writing for Optic Flux since 2017 and is presently our Managing Editor. An experienced freelance health writer, Tonia obtained an English BA from the University of Detroit, then spent over 7 years working in various markets as a television reporter, producer and news videographer. Tonia is particularly interested in scientific innovation, climate technology, and the marine environment.