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Name: Kathy S Littlejohn
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Question:
Is any progress being made in developing an anti-serum for human cancers? If so, which cancers?



Replies:
If by "anti-serum" you mean an antibody based treatment then the answer is no. Cancer cells are not sufficiently different from normal cells to create antibodies which will target the cancer specifically for some kind of destruction. But people are still working on it. The key to treating cancer is still early detection followed by chemotherapy. Also, scientists are working on ways to enhance the immune response to cancer cells with cytokines, proteins which increase the response, and possibly even vaccination with modified cancer cells. These alternative therapies have shown some promise and may gain common use.

-Rob


To add further to the previous respondent:
Several clinical trials are now underway to vaccinate people with modified cancer cells, or with antigens (proteins, mostly) from cancer cells. The trials that I know of have targeted melanomas, a skin cancer that often shows rather aggressive metastasis. The degree to which this "therapeutic immunization" will work remains to be seen. Similar strategies are being tested for various viral diseases, including HIV (AIDS) and herpes virus infections.

- Steve



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