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First cancer vaccine approved for use in people – New Scientist

May 6

The latest weapon in the war on cancer is a patient’s own cells. A prostate cancer vaccine that the US Food and Drug Administration rejected in 2007 has now won the regulator’s approval, making it the first cancer vaccine to do so.

Administering Provenge involves harvesting a patient’s immune cells and exposing them to a protein produced by prostate tumours. These “primed” cells are then re-injected into the patient, where they attack tumours.

Though modest, the latest result shows that harnessing the immune system is a viable way to fight cancer. Oncologist Philip Kantoff at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston led the trial. He expects similar approaches to other cancers, such as melanoma, kidney cancer and lymphoma, to be approved in five to 10 years and that tweaks to Provenge will see it further extend people’s lives.

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