While most cancer vaccines are intended to fight cancers that have already developed, Massachusetts-based biotech start-up OncoPep is working on a vaccine designed to prevent multiple myeloma before it even starts, says Technology Review's Courtney Humphries. The vaccine is meant for patients who have precursors of the blood cancer in their cells — it contains a combination of peptides that are specific to multiple myeloma in order to "train the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells bearing these peptides," Humphries says. The company hopes that detecting the cancer in the early stages could lead to effective early intervention, and that vaccines like this one could help patients while their own immune systems are still healthy.
Measles, Mumps, Multiple Myeloma
May 05, 2011