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Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine Trials

uch as radiation or chemotherapy, they are less capable of measuring the more subtle systemic effects of immune response, Schlom said.

While there is no conclusive evidence to explain why a vaccine may lead to better patient sur-vival, Schlom believes the evidence suggests that vaccines are, in fact, priming the immune sys-tem. Vaccines are not passive, they induce a dynamic process of immune response that, in many cases may keep the tumor in check and enhance the effectiveness of subsequent therapies, Schlom said.

About Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines Unlike preventative vaccines, like those that protect against human papillomavirus or the flu, therapeutic cancer vaccines are given in the hopes of treating an existing disease.

These cancer vaccines generally fall into two categories: cell-based, where vaccines are created using cells from the patients own immune system that have been activated to the presence of cancer antigens and delivered back to the patient along with additional proteins that facilitate immune activation; and vector-based, where an engineered virus, or vector, is used to introduce cancer proteins and other molecules to stimulate the immune system. Both approaches are designed to rile the patients immune system into attacking tumor cells.

In their review Schlom and his colleagues looked at two cell-based vaccines, Sipuleucel-T (Provenge) and GVAX, as well as three trials using an engineered pox-virus vector. While this review article focuses on prostate cancer vaccines, the researchers consider these trials as exam-ples of ongoing progress in similar vaccine therapies for lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic, lung and other types of cancer.


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