How New Research Will Tackle Silent Killers Like Ovarian Cancer

There’s absolutely no doubt that cancer is a frightening disease. It can affect people at virtually any age, and there’s no guaranteed cure. However, scientists made formidable research advancements in the field of oncology in recent years. This, along with experimental trials, provided many people hope for a longer, perhaps even cancer-free, life.

The newest research focused on personalized cancer vaccines.

Scientists create these vaccines using the patient’s own immune cells. This immunotherapy has higher chances of working since it uses distinctive proteins that work for the patient’s tumor in a targeted therapy. Unlike chemotherapy, these personalized vaccines use the patient’s own cells to make a treatment uniquely tailored for every patient’s needs.

To keep it simple, here’s how it works:

They harvest the immune cells’ helpers, called dendritic cells. Then, researchers train these cells to recognize and fight the specific cancerous cell mutations before re-introducing them into the patient’s body. Once transferred back, the dendritic cells ‘teach’ the immune system’s T-cells to fight the cancer. The goal is decreasing the tumor size or completely eradicating it.

One of the most researched types of cancer for this treatment is ovarian cancer.

It’s a life-changing research for many women who battle this type of cancer. In one study, ten women with advanced-stage ovarian cancer received injections once every three weeks, along with two standard medications. After the trial, eight of the women showed a strong immune response and were still alive two years after receiving the treatment. To compare it with standard chemotherapy treatment alone, only half of the group of 56 people were alive after the two-year point.

Personalized cancer vaccinations will change women’s health exponentially once introduced to the global market. Unfortunately, currently these vaccines are only available for special testing since it is still in the research phase. However, since there’s no efficient testing for ovarian cancer, the mere possibility of having an effective treatment is incredible news.

Ovarian cancer is very difficult to screen for. Therefore, these tailored treatments could help countless women whose cancer is discovered later. According to multiple research trials, the treatments are not only effective but also extremely safe, even when combined with other medications.

Even though they’re only in the first phase of trials, women’s survival rates are increasing with the vaccines. The personalized vaccines have also proved extremely effective for treating other types of cancer.

Personalized cancer treatment is no longer a distant dream. Even though it may not be widely available yet, these research trials provide hope that we can all win the battle against cancer someday soon.

Feature Image by Hyttalo Souza on Unsplash

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