Monday, July 3, 2023

Next big advance may be new cancer vaccines that could treat cancers in a variety of organs

Research may be turning a corner, with many scientists predicting new cancer vaccines that would work within five years on breast, lung, ovarian, skin, and pancreatic cancers.

According to a recent Associated Press story by Carla K. Johnson, "these aren't traditional vaccines that prevent disease, but shots to shrink tumors and stop cancer from coming back." 

Dr. James L. Gulley
The article quotes Dr. James L. Gulley, who helps lead the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute that developed immune therapies, including cancer treatment vaccines. He says, "We're getting something to work. Now we need to get it to work better."

Cancer vaccines, like other immunotherapies, boost the immune system to find and kill cancer cells. For a vaccine to work, the piece quotes Dr. Nora Disis of UW Medicine's Cancer Vaccine Institute in Seattle as saying, it needs to teach the immune system's T cells to recognize cancer as dangerous. "If you saw an activated T cell, it almost has feet. You can see it crawling through a blood vessel to get out into the tissues," she said.

Dr. Steve Lipkin, a medical geneticist at New York's Weill Cornell Medicine, also is quoted: "Vaccines are probably the next big thing. We're dedicating our lives to that."

More information about vaccines can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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