Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine

In general, how does a therapeutic tumor vaccine work? If tumor cells normally escape the immune system, then why is vaccinating with such tumor cells expected to work?

A therapeutic cancer vaccine is designed to attempt to enhance the immunogenicity (the immune stimulating capability) of tumor cells. For example, the glioma vaccine in this study consists of well-characterized, irradiated (so they do not continue to replicate) glioma cells mixed with fibroblasts that secrete the cytokine GM-CSF. The three tumor cell lines have been selected from a large number of cell lines tested to contain key antigens of glioma tumors, as well as to produce insignificant levels of suppressive molecules such as TGF-Beta and interleukin 10 (IL-10). When injected into the skin, the GM-CSF, which is continually secreted by the fibroblasts, is intended to help orchestrate the presentation of tumor antigens contained in the vaccine to cells of the immune system.

In effect, the goal is to create a situation in which immune stimulating substances (like the GM-CSF), tumor cells lacking suppressive factors and having a variety of tumor antigens, and cells of the immune system are brought into close proximity so as to enhance the patient's immune system's ability to recognize and mount an attack against the tumor.

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