This therapy involves the use of a personalised vaccine to retrain the immune system to recognise cancer cells as a threat to the body.
Dendritic cells are found in all blood vessels. These cells identify foreign substances, such as cancer cells in the body, process them and then help jump start the immune response to destroy them by bringing them to the attention of the T cells. Often the dendritic cells are not very effective with this process. With Dendritic Cell Therapy, the patient’s own dendritic cells are treated and modified to be able to specifically train the T cells to attack and kill all cancer cells that have the same foreign substance on their surface
The interaction between cancer cells and the immune system was first recognised in the 1890s by a young New York doctor, William Coley. Dr. Coley found in a number of cancer patients that they had experienced spontaneous remission of their tumours after having contracted an acute bacterial infection. He went on to treat his patients with bacterial cultures in the form of Coley’s Toxins. This has lead to the development of cellular immunotherapy or Dendritic Cell Therapy Vaccines today.
Dendritic Cells are used in vaccines because they are specialised for capturing tumour-associated antigens and converting them from a protein into peptides that will attract T cells and Natural Killer cells. They are able to induce an immune response that will kill tumour cells while retaining a memory of this response in the event that the antigen is detected again in the future.
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