Your Health — Personalized cancer vaccines

Health Reports

Bob, who didn’t want to use his last name, is a 74-year-old retired attorney. His city strolls are less frequent right now. He’s building back his strength after chronic lung disease and lung cancer.

He is also among the first patients ina. small trial of a personalized cancer vaccine.

“The cancer vaccines try to teach your immune system how to recognize your cancer and eliminate it,” said Dr. Thomas Marron of The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mt. Sinai.

To personalize a vaccine, scientists drew patients’ blood to study their DNA and RNA. Then, researchers used a computer program to identify cancer targets.

Those targets are manufactured in the lab and become part of the vaccine. The vaccines were given as injections — 10 treatments over a six-month period.

“The infusion probably took about an hour each time,” Bob said. “So, it was more involved than a flu shot.”

Dr. Marron said the goal of the vaccine is to stop cancer from coming back by adding it to chemo and current immunotherapies.

“Our initial data does that,” Dr. Marron said. “After getting all 10 vaccines, you know, patients can be very strongly immunized against their cancer.”

Right now, for Bob, it’s working.

“No sign of cancer,” Bob said. “Dr. Marron has been monitoring me very carefully.”

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