Investigators probe cancer vax effectiveness

Brazilian researchers believe the lackluster lymphocytic responses resulting from the interaction between cancer and dendritic cells could explain why some cancer vaccines are not as effective as desired. 

To reach that conclusion, researchers took blood samples from healthy individuals and breast cancer patients. Once the blood cells were induced into dendritic cells and interacted with lymphocytes, researchers noticed two differences: the dendritic cells from the healthy donors produced "vigorous" lymphocytic responses, whereas those from the cancer patients deactivated specific lymphocytes that support the immune system.

Knowing what could prevent cancer vaccines from working effectively should help investigators at work in the field. While the discovery may be disappointing, it sets the groundwork for research that could produce better cancer vaccines.

"This study helps us to better understand the mechanisms by which tumors avoid immune recognition and rejection and may, therefore, teach us how to actually engage effectively the immune system in the fight against tumors, thus achieving much better clinical responses and, consequently, quality of life, in our therapeutic approaches," said researcher José Alexandre Barbuto, of the University of São Paulo, in a statement.

More details can be found in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

- here's the release
- check out the journal abstract