A Tumor to Kill Cancer?

A novel approach to cancer treatment has been developed recently – creating a personalized vaccine to help prevent cancer. This approach is said to help by enabling patients with colorectal cancer to develop an immune response to their own cancers.

vaccine to prevent cancerThe procedure was tested at Dartmouth, wherein a dendritic cell (DC) vaccine was used after surgical resection of metastatic tumors to try to prevent the growth of additional metastases.

According to the study leader, Richard Barth Jr, Chief of general surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, this could herald a new approach to cancer treatment, which works like this – dendritic cells are grown from a sample of a patient’s blood, then blended with proteins from the patient’s tumor, and then this mixture is injected into the patient as a vaccine.

Dendritic cells help to find targets or antigens and then stimulate the body’s immune system to fight against them.

The response from the body is to fight the tumor which was stimulated by the vaccine, but which also ends up fighting with the tumor of the cancer itself.  The vaccine stimulates T cells in the body which are a variety of white blood cells that protect the body from invaders and the disease.