Apr 9, 2012

How Will Cancer Vaccines Work?

When you are vaccinated for smallpox, measles, or shingles your body is flooded with antigens that trigger your immune system to produce antibodies and/or to activate immune “killer cells” to fight the perceived disease threat.

When the injected antigens are a weaker version of molecules in or on a cancer cell, the body creates ‘killer T cells’ to attack the cancer cells with that molecule. The body can also create B-cells that produce antibodies to the molecule, and by extension, the cancer cell.  The activated immune cells and/or antibodies are then able to attack cancer cells in the future that have the same molecule—this could create lifelong immunity to that specific type of cancer.

Vaccines must mimic parts of the cancer cells in the body in order to be effective. And the body must be healthy enough to produce an immune response.

In 2010 the U.S. FDA approved the first-ever tumor vaccine, called Provenge (also called Sipuleucel-T), to treat prostate cancer. Numerous vaccines are now being tested. There are many types of cancer and identifying the specific makeup of each individual’s cancer cells and creating or matching a vaccine specific to that type of cancer can be time consuming and expensive. 


  1. I'm not quite sure if this vaccine will be enough to cute or fight of cancer. There are still a lot of people today dying from cancer. I still believe the best option is chemo therapy, but hopefully they'll be able to produce a strong vaccine for this in the near future.

  2. Can you imagine how much lives would be saved or could have been saved if cancer vaccines exist? I'm still hoping that one day researches would finally be able to find the right cure for cancer. A lot of lives are taken away lately because of this disease. I, myself, don't even know the real cause of it in the first place.

  3. Scientist are still struggling how to find the cure for cancer. Probably 20-30 years from now they can figure it out how to cure cancer.