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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 1999 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

DNA Vaccines as Cancer Treatment

No longer limited to warding against infectious agents, vaccines may help treat diseases after they have been diagnosed

Edwin F. de Zoeten, Edward Cohen, Morton Schatzman

Figure 6. Genes for strongly immunogenic tumor antigensClick to Enlarge Image

Vaccines to fight foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, work by presenting the immune system with a harmless version of the pathogen that the immune system learns to recognize in case a person is faced with the real pathogen. Cancerous cells are not foreign. However, they are not entirely identical with their normal counterparts, either; they carry a set of proteins slightly different from those found on normal cells, and these can be exploited to develop vaccines that stimulate an immune response against them. As the authors explain, the DNA encoding these tumor-cell proteins can be injected into cells that might help people mount a vigorous immune response against the cancers.


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