The Possibilities of Personalized Vaccination

The advancement of personalized techniques into the forefront of modern medicine has been a long time coming. Cancer, arguably the most confounding disease to researchers today, has so many variants that only truly personalized approaches have the potential for wholesale success. However, researchers have been trying to use vaccines to fight cancer for decades, without any real success. With a new, innovative approach to these vaccines, researchers are looking at the possibility for real success in personalized medicine.

Researchers are now testing a new group of vaccines against cancer, which are loaded with neoantigens. These neoantigens are made of various mutated proteins, and the vaccine is created specific to the tumor with which the patient is afflicted. Neoantigen vaccines are recognized as foreign by the body, and boost cellular responses against the tumor they are specific to.

An up-close look of cancer cells that have invaded the lymph node of a patient

The research team responsible for these possibilities, hailing from Boston, are in the most preliminary stages of testing, and are in fact still awaiting peer-reviewed publication for their work. Many cancer vaccines have been proposed over the years, and most have not been proven to be significantly harm-reducing.

Despite the history of disappointment surrounding this field, this new study is garnering massive amounts of attention for its novel ideas and potential for imminent medical advancement and real-world usage. The new method already “appears to have prevented early relapses in 12 people with skin cancer.” A sample size this small is clearly not statistically significant, but its early trend of success is distinctly promising.

Currently, billionaire Sean Parker has launched a competition involving thirty biotechnology companies, in which each company will receive the same samples of tumor cells and attempt to predict the neoantigens best equipped for fighting the disease. If these and other efforts are at all successful, the potential for our own bodies to fight off cancer is revolutionary. Theoretically, without the need for radiotherapy treatments that are often extremely harsh, cancer treatment will be far less intrusive and far more effective.

Below, I have provided a YouTube link that briefly describes the idea behind cancer vaccines.


One thought on “The Possibilities of Personalized Vaccination

  1. That’s really interesting that vaccines have a post-disease use. I always thought of them as preventative, besides for the case of tetanus. I am curious as to how personalized these vaccines will be though.
    Rivka Kantor


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