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Self-Sabotage: Why Cancer Vaccines Don't Work

3/5/2013

Time (Health & Family)
By Alice Park 
March 5, 2013


A vaccine that thwarts cancer cells has so far proved to be better in theory than in practice, and researchers may finally understand why.

The possibility of turning the body’s own immune system against tumor cells has hovered like a medical mirage over the cancer-research community for decades. While tumors emerge from healthy cells that start to grow with abandon, they have enough tumor-specific features that should make them easy targets for an alert immune system that’s trained to distinguish between molecular friends and foes. And this idea was supported by several encouraging trials of therapeutic cancer vaccines, which effectively shrank tumors in cell cultures in the lab.

But when these promising vaccine candidates, including ones against melanoma and lymphoma, were tested in patients,

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