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Cancer vaccines gain momentum, after years of disappointing results

SAN DIEGO — Cancer vaccines have traveled a potholed road over the last decade. But as researchers from different companies and academic institutions presented promising early data at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in San Diego this week, experts said there’s a collective feeling of turning a corner.

“There’s a lot more interest in vaccines” now that the technology is improving, said Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center.

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The promise has long been an affordable, personalized cancer vaccine that could train the immune system to recognize proteins from cancer cells and, subsequently, destroy the tumor. But in order to make an effective one, three fundamental things need to come together, said Vinod Balachandran, a cancer researcher and surgical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: the right antigen, the right delivery technology, and the right setting.

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