Possible Prostate Cancer Vaccine
Vaccines utilize the power of the immune system to help fight off diseases. The best way to think about your immune system is that it is your body’s personalized self-defense system. It silently stands guard 24 hours a day 7 days a week waiting for any biological alarms to go off.
When an invader is detected, your personal security bodyguard jumps into action and immediately starts defending and protecting you by destroying cells it believes are harmful. Effective vaccines can offer excellent protection against a specific harmful agent by alerting the system to attack the invader. Once “trained” by a vaccine, your antibody-producing cells develop a kind of memory and remain ready to respond to a specific future threat.1
Recognizing an invader
While all of this sounds great, your bodyguard does its best work if it has spent some time in bootcamp, has had some real world experience, and ... has had some practice at fighting off a powerful invader.
Think about it this way. You can spend days and hours in a library studying Judo, but you will never become a Black Belt or earn any belt if you never have on-the-mat experience. Or just try telling your state motor vehicle driving inspector when going in for a driver’s license that you do not need to take a road test because you got 100 on the written part. My guess is you will be doing a lot of walking.
When talking about vaccines, we are really talking about a way to train your body to practice killing off weakened versions of harmful cells. Once introduced into your body, your immune system goes to work learning how to defeat a new invader in new and novel ways. Once the learning curve is completed, your immune system is better able to recognize a full-strength invader and hopefully can deal with it swiftly.
Since it is your immune system that responds to threats, this kind of treatment is called immunotherapy. Around the world, there are new developments taking place to come up with an immunotherapy for prostate cancer. If successfully developed, such an approach might offer prostate cancer patients, particularly advanced patients, another type of treatment that could help keep them alive and well for some time to come.
I think there is a promising potential vaccine being developed at Queens University in Ireland. As Prostate Cancer UK explains, it uses genetic material from prostate cancer cells, called mRNA, and then introduces them directly into a patient in much the same way a flu shot or Covid shot might be given. While mRNA is a part of genetic cancer cells, it is not considered dangerous; rather, in this case, the approach sets up a training program for the immune system to recognize and destroy prostate cancer cells.2
If this approach proves to be successful, I think the future development of a prostate cancer vaccine would be revolutionary.
With my Gleason 9 - I am keeping my fingers crossed that it works.
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?