Cancer vaccines work by leveraging the body’s own immune system to seek out and attack specific cancer cells. Like most novel cancer therapies, the approach was first tried in extremely ill patients, and the approach was largely disappointing, because the immune tolerance and immune escape mechanisms of large, established tumors are perhaps too great for the body to overcome using current vaccination techniques. While many researchers abandoned the idea, the founder of the CVDP, Dr. George Peoples, persevered and discovered evidence that patients with a low tumor burden – patients with less suppressed immune systems – may benefit. Dr. Peoples focused on using cancer vaccines in the adjuvant setting (treatments to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence) in patients who have had their cancer resected (surgically removed), but are at high risk for recurrence. Dr. Peoples’ discovery represents a paradigm shift in how cancer researchers approach potential vaccines.
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