T-CELLS ON ALERT
The goal of cancer vaccines is to get T-cells to recognize the presence of cancer and fight back.
Dr. Christopher Paige leads a laboratory where cancer cells are genetically modified to make them more visible to the immune system. The modified cancer cells are returned to the body where they activate immune system T-cells, which spread throughout the body killing both the modified cancer cells and any other residual cancer cells that are present.
This is considered to be a therapeutic vaccine as it is designed to be used after a cancer has appeared. This is a different concept from vaccines that prevent something from occurring in the first place, such as the vaccine against the virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer.
Other cancer research seeks to stimulate the immune system by using a type of immune cell that helps spur T-cells into action – the dendritic cell. Dendritic cells can be loaded with cancer-specific substances that are recognized by the immune system triggering an anti-cancer immune response.