Vaccines have protected people from deadly diseases for generations. Could they also help fight cancer?
Mayo Clinic researchers are working to develop personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines that can potentially target each person’s distinctive tumor characteristics. The new approach, built on advances in genomic research and data analytics, holds transformative potential to boost the power of the immune system to identify and attack cancer cells.
“For some patients with cancer, the vaccine may possibly induce their tumors to shrink and provide long-term, durable anti-tumor immunity,” says Keith Knutson, Ph.D., co-leader of the Immunology and Immunotherapy Program at Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida and co-creator of Mayo Clinic’s Neoantigen Personalized Vaccine Program. Dr. Knutson’s research is focused on preventing cancer progression.
Dr. Knutson says the individualized cancer vaccines are designed similarly to vaccines for influenza or COVID-19, where the key ingredient is a specific disease-related protein.
“As the immune system learns to recognize that protein, it can stimulate the production of killer T cells to fight it,” Dr. Knutson explains.
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