Companies like Genentech are hoping that personalized cancer vaccines take off, MIT's Technology Review reports.
It notes that the leadership there was initially skeptical that such a treatment could work, but in the years since, advances in genome sequencing as well as figuring out why the human immune system would target some cancer antigens but not other proteins, have helped them and others come around.
As Tech Review reports, Genenetch has since partnered with the German firm BioNTech and the two are now testing their personalized vaccine approach for some 10 cancer types affecting 560 patients around the world. Likewise, it notes that Moderna and Merck as well as Neon Therapeutics are also pursuing cancer vaccines.
Still, Tech Review notes there are a number of challenges to overcome, including the time it takes to generate the vaccines — if any step in the process goes awry, they may have to start over — and scaling the process up.
"For now, though, one of the most promising advances in cancer research remains an experimental treatment," Tech Review writes. "It might be a medical breakthrough, but it is facing a familiar logistical challenge: how to get the product cheaply and quickly where it needs to go."
In addition, such personalized treatment is likely to be expensive.