A personalized vaccine for cancer
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personal cancer vaccine

Imagine a vaccine made specifically for you and for fighting a deadly cancer. Sounds unlikely and yet one is being developed for Melanoma called NeoVax. Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer that involves melanocytes which are cells that give skin its color. It's deadly because the cancer cells can metastasize quickly which means to spread to other parts of the body.

The vaccine study involved patients with a high chance for reoccurrence even after tumors were removed. The vaccine works through molecules called neoantigens, which are protein-based molecules on the surface of cancer cells. Scientists created the personalized vaccine by using twenty of these neoantigens from each patient. By receiving the neoantigens created from their own cancer cells, patients generated melanoma specific T cells that became their cancer killers. Even though the study involved just eight patients, they were all alive with six showing no evidence of disease four YEARS later. And what's key is T cells from all patients continued to recognize the original neoantigens over the entire study.

Even more surprising is the NeoVax T cells began to recognize NEW cancer cell antigens on the melanoma cells, keeping the vaccine effective longer. But how accessible would NeoVax be at sixty thousand dollars to produce for each patient? Costs do normally drop with time, so if this works, we'll see a lot more people survive.

For more information…

Personal neoantigen vaccines induce persistent memory T cell responses and epitope spreading in patients with melanoma
Personal neoantigen vaccines have been envisioned as an effective approach to induce, amplify and diversify antitumor T cell responses. To define the long-term effects of such a vaccine, we evaluated the clinical outcome and circulating immune responses of eight patients with surgically resected stage IIIB/C or IVM1a/b melanoma, at a median of almost 4 years after treatment with NeoVax, a long-peptide vaccine targeting up to 20 personal neoantigens per patient...

Personalized skin cancer vaccine demonstrates long-term effectiveness
New research published in the journal Nature is outlining the long-term efficacy of a novel type of cancer vaccine. The research followed eight skin cancer patients and discovered the experimental treatment offers durable and persistent immune responses to cancer cells up to four years later...