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Cancer Vaccine

December 14, 2010

The key to successful cancer vaccines of the future may lie in turning off a tumor’s ability to shut down the immune system.


Cancer’s Achilles’ heel…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you have an infection, the immune system usually attacks the unwanted invader and destroys it. But cancer is a different matter. One of the reasons the disease is so hard to treat is because cells within a tumor actually suppress the immune system and keep it from doing its job. This according to Cambridge University immunologist Douglas Fearon. He and his colleagues bred a strain of mice whose immune systems destroy the cells that suppress the immune system.

DOUGLAS FEARON (University of Cambridge):
We could at will just kill these cells inside the tumor. And when we did that, the tumor rapidly underwent necrosis, so that in two days about eighty percent of the cells had died in the tumor.

He says the research could help lead to vaccines that attack tumors the same way. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.