Some researchers have stopped searching for a cure to cancer, and instead are looking at ways to prevent it by developing vaccines that work by boosting a person’s immune response to cancer cells. Recently a minimally invasive, biomaterial-based vaccination system has been developed. Cancer cells are seeded into a cryogel sponge (pictured) and injected for cancer immunotherapy. The vaccine has been recently tested against melanoma – a type of skin cancer – in mice. Mice were injected with a melanoma-seeded cryogel to deliver the cancer cells and produce an immune response. Tumours were then transplanted into the mice to test the effectiveness of the vaccine. A survival rate of up to 80% was measured. After four months, more tumours were transplanted into the surviving mice with a survival rate of 100%, showing excellent long term immunological memory. This strategy could potentially be extended to other types of cancer, providing tumour-specific immunity.
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