Vaccines for cancer have long been seen as a possible, but incredibly far-fetched idea. However, the possibility of being vaccinated for cancer, like a polio or flu shot, is getting closer. Scientists and medical doctors are becoming increasingly optimistic about the possibility for a successful vaccine to certain forms of cancer.
One type of these vaccines is a dsRNA vaccine, which is designed to replicate the protein that is able to take over a cell by tricking the receptor proteins on the plasma membrane into accepting it. The immune system then learns how to respond to this event and can do so in the future with actual malignant proteins. This works similarly to the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.
Pancreatic cancer is a promising target – for those in remission, the chance of fatal recurrence is 70-80%, yet relatively easy to detect early with careful testing. The safety study, conducted by the Johns Hopkins Hospital Cancer Center, had no recurrence out of 12 patients. Although very early in the trial process, these are promising initial results that bode well for the future of the trial.
Although not every study is quite as promising. In a more comprehensive, though also not peer-reviewed, study of vaccination against colon cancer, there was no significant difference between the cancer rates of the control group and the experimental group. However, there is promise in the concept, and the field must be explored further before judgment can be cast. At the same time as these other therapies are being developed, inoculation such as the HPV vaccine is preventing cancer by protecting against cancer-causing illnesses. Cancer prevention is a recent, but flourishing field, and one that must be developed further.