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Guest Thinkers

Cancer Vaccines Show Promise

A new experimental cancer vaccine that targets the immune system has shown some early progress in improving survival in women with metastatic breast or ovarian cancer.

What’s the Latest Development?

An experimental cancer vaccine has shown early signs of success in women with breast or ovarian cancers which have spread to other parts of their bodies. The vaccine is called Panvac and targets the immune system; women whose bodies were not weakened by chemotherapy treatments responded positively to the vaccine and outlived those who were given placebo vaccines. The vaccine does not shrink the disease but it does seem to offer patients the chance to live longer.

What’s the Big Idea?

The new vaccine works similarly to others by training the body to recognize threatening intruders: “The vaccine consists of the body’s own cells that have been modified by adding viruses that code for proteins associated with cancer cells. The body’s own cells will then recognize these cancer-associated proteins and prompt the immune system into attacking them once they are injected back into the body as a vaccine.” While the vaccine is still a long way from clinical use, further tests are already under development.

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