Personalized cancer vax helps keep patients tumor-free

Dartmouth investigators say that a personalized dendritic cell vaccine has produced a solid set of five-year survival data demonstrating its effectiveness at keeping patients cancer-free after their tumors were removed.

The researchers found that their approach produced an immune response among 60 percent of the 26 colorectal cancer patients in their study. Five years after their vaccine treatments, 63 percent of the patients who experienced an immune response were alive and tumor-free, versus 18 percent who had not achieved a response. "The results of the study suggest a new way to approach cancer treatment," Dr. Richard Barth, the principal investigator, says in a statement. "Basically, we've worked out a way to use dendritic cells, which initiate immune responses, to induce an anti-tumor response."

Barth says that their vaccine was produced from proteins taken from the tumors removed from patients and dendritic cells which were grown using blood samples which were also taken from the patients. "What we're trying to do is boost or develop a new immune response against these cancer cells by providing a sort of strong signal in the form of a dendritic cell vaccine to the immune system," Barth told The Dartmouth. "We're trying to stimulate what might have been in patients just an inadequate immune response to this tumor initially."

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