Earlier Use of Prostate Cancer Vaccines Urged By Hopkins Scientists

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Timing is everything when it comes to killing prostate cancer cells with specially tailored vaccines, say scientists testing the drugs in mice at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

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"The window of opportunity is narrow for vaccination, designed to reinvigorate the immune system's attack on cancer cells, and it occurs right after hormonal therapy begins to wipe out the tumor and immune cells outnumber cancerous ones," according to Charles Drake, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of oncology and director of the research which is published in the March issue of Cancer Cell.

In the Hopkins studies with mice bred to develop prostate cancer, Drake and his collaborators at the University of Connecticut found that the animal's immune system recognizes the cancer but fails to mount an attack, probably because immune cells become tolerant of the slow-growing cancer.

"The mice get used to the cancer very slowly over time," Drake says.

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