Cancer Vaccines

Cancer vaccines are a form of immunotherapy that can help educate the immune system about what cancer cells “look like” so that it can recognize and eliminate them.

Vaccines have proven effective in preventing diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. Since the first vaccine was developed more than 200 years ago, they have prevented some of the twentieth century’s deadliest diseases and have helped save hundreds of millions of lives globally.

In the case of diseases caused by viruses (e.g., measles, polio, and smallpox) and bacteria (e.g., diphtheria, tetanus, and tuberculosis), vaccines work by exposing people to a weakened or inactivated version of the threat. This enables their immune system to identify these threats according to their specific markers—known as “antigens”—and mount a response against them. These vaccines typically work best in the preventive setting, when an individual is given the vaccine before being infected by the bacteria or virus.

In the case of cancer, however, the situation is more complicated for several reasons (more below) and this has made it more difficult to develop vaccines to either prevent or treat cancer. In particular, unlike bacteria and viruses, which appear foreign to our immune system, cancer cells more closely resemble our normal, healthy cells. Furthermore, each individual’s tumor is in some sense unique and has its own distinguishing antigens. As a result, more sophisticated approaches are necessary to develop effective cancer vaccines.

  • Preventive Cancer Vaccines
  • Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines
  • Personalized Neoantigen Vaccines

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    6th World Congress on Vaccine and Immunology

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