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Cancer vaccines, an answer after 100 years

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Cancer vaccines, an answer after 100 years

The announcements of recent days and the data available suggest that therapeutic vaccines could be an extra weapon in cancer therapy. First of all, let’s remember that we already have two preventive vaccines: against the hepatitis B virus, which causes liver cancer, and against the papilloma virus responsible for cancer of the uterine cervix, as well as head and neck and anus. The challenge of therapeutic vaccines, to be administered for the treatment of the disease, is completely new. In the case of cancer, scientific research has been looking for solutions for 50 years. As often happens, there were numerous failures, but one of them gave a strong impetus to the Immuno revolution: a clinical trial in which an antibody (anti-CTLA4) capable of “removing the brake” on the immune system was used. The vaccine failed, but anti-CTLA4 yielded 20% of the cures for advanced melanoma which, until that day, was incurable.

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