Researchers in Cork say they have created a vaccine which could in the future be used to effectively protect against prostate cancer.

The Cork Cancer Research Centre at University College Cork says it has identified DNA vaccines that are able to target and destroy cancer cells.

The project is halfway through a process that is estimated to take up to 15 years to complete.

About 1,900 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland each year. It is the second most common form of cancer diagnosed in men in this country and up to 900 men die of the disease each year.

Researchers at the Cork Cancer Research Centre at UCC have been working to develop DNA vaccines that activate the immune system against prostate cancer - they say they have created vaccines that have been highly successful in animal trials.

It is hoped that human clinical trials will get under way next year.

Dr Mark Tangney, the principal investigator involved in the research, says the vaccines have been able to seek out and destroy secondary cancerous cells that have spread to other parts of the body.

The vaccines stimulate the immune system, producing anti-bodies that help protect against the disease.

Dr Tangney says that it could be possible to create vaccines for various forms of cancer in the future.

The research is published today in the international journal Genetic Vaccines and Therapy.