Cancer vaccines which are intended to help patients fight cancer by enlisting the individuals' own immune systems to attack cancer cells showed promise in two small new studies.
In both studies, researchers used experimental cancer vaccines to treat patients who had the deadly skin cancer melanoma . And in both studies, tumors completely disappeared in more than half of the patients after they were given their cancer vaccines. The other patients were given another type of treatment that was aimed at further boosting the ability of the individuals' immune systems ' ability to fight cancer, and in some of those cases, these patients' tumors also disappeared.
Researchers are developing similar vaccines against other cancers as well, including a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, kidney cancer, blood cell cancers and ovarian cancer, said Dr. Catherine Wu, a physician-scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who led one of the new studies. "Many other cancers might benefit from this approach," Wu said.
Ideally, any cancer treatment would target cancerous cells while sparing healthy cells. In the vaccine approach, scientists want to develop vaccines that carry molecules seen only on cancerous cells . Such vaccines could help the immune ...