Personalized melanoma vaccine - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Personalized melanoma vaccine

(Source: AP Graphics) (Source: AP Graphics)

ST. LOUIS (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - The skin is the largest organ of the body, so it’s no wonder that skin cancer is the most common cancer of them all.

In fact, 3.5 million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year - 73,000 of them will be told they have melanoma - a cancer with no cure. But now, doctors are working on a personalized vaccine that could stop this deadly disease in its tracks.

Gerald Linette, MD, PhD, Oncologist at the Washington University in St. Louis says, “Cancer medicine is in the midst of the very dramatic shift away from conventional set of toxic chemotherapies toward new treatments and approaches that can exploit genetic changes or alterations in the cancer genome.”

By sequencing a patient's genome, researchers at Washington University can tell which cells are cancerous.  The personalized vaccine is then made to help the immune system identify those cells and destroy them.

“It’s customized for each patient because these mutations turn out to be unique for each individual patient,” says Dr. Linette.

The vaccine is given by IV every six weeks for a total of three times. Dr. Linette believes this same type of personalized cancer vaccine could also work on other cancers such as lung, breast and kidney cancers. 

The next step, a larger clinical trial and if everything works out we could see personalized vaccines used to fight cancers in the next five to 10 years.

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