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Personalized tumor vaccines keep cancer in check

Personalized vaccines might keep cancer relapses at bay.

For half a century, researchers have dreamed of giving cancer patients a vaccine that helps the immune system detect the tumors as foreign tissue and wipe them out. But hundreds of attempts helped few patients. Now, a new approach that tailors a personalized vaccine to the mutated proteins in an individual’s tumor appears to have prevented early relapses in 12 people with skin cancer. It also may have helped several others by boosting the power of a new type of cancer drug that uses a different mechanism to unleash an immune attack on the tumor.

“We’re in this very exciting, new moment” for personalized cancer vaccines, says Catherine Wu of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, whose team presented results last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Washington, D.C. A second team has similarly encouraging data. The two small studies, mainly designed to test safety and immune responses, are indeed “promising,” says Drew Pardoll of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. But, he cautions, it is “way too early” to draw firm conclusions about whether the vaccines will extend the lives of cancer patients.

Whereas earlier, unsuccessful cancer vaccines usually targeted a single distinctive cancer protein shared among patients, these new ones contain multiple mutated proteins, or “neoantigens,” that are specific to an individual patient’s tumor. Giving patients a dose of their tumor neoantigens, which look foreign to the immune system, should help activate immune cells called T cells to attack the cancer cells.

Read full article: Personalized tumor vaccines keep cancer in check | Science | AAAS

Read Full Article: Personalized tumor vaccines keep cancer in check | Science | AAAS

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