What if we could get a vaccine that would prevent us from getting cancer, by causing our immune systems to protect us from it–just like a flu shot does. This may be on the way.
Our immune systems have trouble recognizing cancer cells as dangerous, so it does not act to destroy them. But we may be able to manipulate our body’s defenses so they will attack cancer cells.
On the Life Extension website, Henry A. Davis quotes immunologist Kunle Odunsi as saying, "There is a slew of data indicating that an immune response can lead to better outcomes in cancer. The question is, how can we harness this power of the immune system?"
Davis writes: "Conventional vaccines contain harmless versions of microorganisms, such as the flu, that stimulate special cells, proteins and tissues in the body to identify and destroy viruses, bacteria and parasites. The immune system also develops a memory for these microbes, standing on guard in case the same foreign invaders infect the body in the future. "
But cancer isn’t usually about the body coming under attack from obvious enemies. Tumors arise from normal cells and so resemble normal cells, and the body is not designed to attack itself. Tumor cells also have ways to evade detection."
Only 18 cancer patients will be enrolled in the first study of the vaccine. The researcher have about 5,000 applicants. Davis quotes researcher Candace Johnson as saying, "There is a lot of promise. I tell people they need to be patient. The trouble is, I also know that when you have cancer, you can’t be patient."
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