The battle against cancer has been an ongoing struggle, but a recent development in the field of immunotherapy has given newfound hope to researchers. Advancements documented in Genome have opened the door for a new era of cancer treatment – with treatment vaccines!

Vaccines work by training the body’s own immune system to fight the problem. Immunotherapy is not a new concept. In fact, impressive results have already been observed when using it to target specific cancerous cells.

The difference between treatment vaccines and preventative vaccines

There is an important difference between treatment vaccines and preventative vaccines though. Preventative vaccines for cancer such as the HPV shot have been around for years and are being constantly improved. They aim at training the body to fight signs of infection, thus helping to prevent the emergence of an environment in which certain types of cancer might arise.

Killer T cells to target cancer - treatment vaccines
Extracting RNA from a patient’s cancer cells, and convincing “killer” T-cells to attack tumors

The new vaccine approach being discussed is a treatment vaccine which teaches the body to attack and kill already live cancer cells.

By extracting pieces of RNA from a patient’s cancer cells, researchers have found a way to cater to specific individuals, convincing “killer” T-cells into launching an attack on tumors that a patient has been afflicted with.

Ongoing research has suggested that this innovative approach can be wielded against any type of tumor, anywhere within the body. According to a team of researchers at Johannes Gutneyberg University of Mainz, Germany, these “vaccines are fast and inexpensive to produce, and virtually any tumor antigen can be encoded by RNA.”

This means the vaccine is not only capable of encouraging the immune system to defend itself, but would serve as an easy and readily accessible option to patients in need.

In a field where genetic diversity can impact the effectiveness of treatments from patient to patient, the ability to craft customized treatment vaccines is a valuable improvement in comparison to current methods.

Although this technique is in need of further testing and development, the results have been promising and inspired hope about the future of cancer treatments. This bold idea is only the beginning of what researchers intend to achieve in coming years.

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