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Personal cancer vaccines and immunotherapy: 3 things to know

Immunotherapy uses substances that stimulate the immune system to prevent or treat cancer and other diseases. It is an emerging field bringing signs of hope for cancer patients and their families.

One form of immunotherapy involves the use of personalized cancer vaccines (PCVs). As, researchers are seeking to use these PCVs as an effective way to treat various cancers, including mesothelioma.

Here are three things to know about how the effort to develop personalized vaccines that use immunotherapy techniques to fight cancer cells.

The first generation of immunotherapy drugs worked with some, but not all, types of cancer.

The first immunotherapy drugs tried to fight cancer by helping immune cells to attack tumors. The drugs are supposed to do this by interfering with molecules that would otherwise block immune cells from going after tumors.

This technique does not work with all types of cancer, however, because of a lack of immune cells.

Researchers are working on an experimental vaccine that would use stem-cells to treat mesothelioma.

In an experimental study done by Stanford School of Medicine, researchers took blood from participating patients and used it to make a genetically-enhanced stem call that will induce the immune system to fight cancer.

The researchers combined these cells - called IPS for pluripontent stem cells - with another immune-stimulating agent. The Stanford team then used this combination to create a vaccine that would trick the immune system into unleashing its defenses against cancer cells.

The study found that this type of treatment has the potential to help in the prevention or treatment of mesothelioma, as well breast cancer and melanoma. We discussed this in a previous post.

Immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma remains experimental, but offers signs of hope.

Immunotherapy treatment remains experimental. The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved it for widespread use.

So far, the FDA has approved chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma but not immunotherapy treatment. But as we've discussed, clinical trials are beginning to show how immunotherapy could be used to treat mesothelioma.

If you have more questions about this, reach out to an attorney who is familiar with asbestos diseases and the resulting implications.

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