Study: Vaccine developers should target deadliest cancers

Cancer vaccine developers are targeting cancers based on how many annual cases of those cancers occur, rather than the number of deaths they cause. That's according to research conducted at the University of Michigan, which finds that companies could have a greater impact on patient outcomes if they focused on targeting cancers with high mortality rates, rather than common cancers.

"If a cancer is more commonly diagnosed in the United States, it is significantly more likely to have therapeutic vaccines in clinical trials," noted U-M's Dr. Matthew Davis in a release. "Focusing on annual incidence is a very common approach by drug companies in developing new therapies." 

There are currently 230 therapeutic vaccine trials in the works for 13 types of cancer, the researchers found. Vaccines for melanoma (40), breast (34), lung (30), prostate (22), and brain (20) cancer are the most common in development. But lung, pancreas, colon, breast and liver and bile duct cancers have the highest mortality rate, leading to an estimated 303,000 deaths annually. However, just 90 cancer vaccines are in development for these five diseases.

"The lack of a connection between therapeutic cancer vaccine development and cancer deaths means that vaccine development in this arena today may not best serve the needs of cancer patients tomorrow," Davis said. "As a primary care doctor, I would like to see innovations with therapeutic vaccines that target cancers where our current therapies are less effective than average."

- here's the U-M release
- read this Science Daily report for more

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