Cancer Vaccines are medicines that boost the immune’s natural ability to protect the body against “foreign invaders,” mainly infectious agents that may cause disease as opposed to chemotherapy and radiotherapy that utilize chemical drugs and radiation, respectively.
Increased knowledge in our immune system has opened up new combination therapies in immuno-oncology, to enhance immune response to vaccines. Thus, some new treatments include use of monoclonal antibodies and genetically engineered viral vectors to kill tumours.
Research is rapidly growing in targeted immuno-therapy, involving treatment in the form of peptide vaccines (T and B cell epitopes), DNA vaccines and vaccination using dendritic cells, viral vectors, antibodies and adoptive transfer of T cells.
However, it has also become clear that cancer cells have different ways of eluding the immune system, which makes creating effective vaccines difficult. Thus, vaccines are now often given along with other substances (called adjuvants) that help boost the body’s immune response, which might help the vaccines work better.
Researchers are also studying the best way to give vaccines, looking to see if they work better when used alone or with other types of cancer treatments.
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