Not Just for Prevention Anymore

Think vaccines: a quick needle in the arm or buttock to ward off flu or measles, right? Not necessarily. Most of the vaccines being developed today are designed to treat disease, not prevent it. "The field is exploding," says Dr. Jeffrey Schlom of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), sponsor of nearly 100 studies of therapeutic vaccines, many of them to fight melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.

Like their predecessors, therapeutic vaccines stimulate the immune system. But there is a key difference. Instead of targeting invading viruses or bacteria, they mobilize the body against a homegrown menace: cells growing wildly out...

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