Working with cancer patients from around the world, Oasis of Hope in Tijuana delivers innovative care that combines conventional therapy with alternative medicine. One of the clinic’s areas of emphasis is the dendritic cell cancer vaccine (DCV). As explored by Francisco Contreras, MD, in a white paper accessible on the Oasis of Hope website, this modality is based on the fact that the body’s immune system is the most effective anti-cancer agent.
Unfortunately, the microenvironment that the tumor controls can suppress the immune system’s anti-cancer response. In addition, the body is placed at a disadvantage when bombarded with chemotherapy, radiation, and other protocol that suppress the immune system and help kill the tumor.
One proposed solution is a vaccine that encodes dendritic cells (tasked with initiating adaptive immune responses) with a cancer antigen. This activates the “cancer-killer” T cells and NK cells, which view the dendritic cells as a tumor and deliver a robust, targeted immune response. Clinical trials have demonstrated that the DCV approach holds significant potential, but there is one caution. Allogeneic immunotherapies, which involve cells donated by a person other than the patient, have generated mixed results. Autologous immunotherapies, which injects or infuses the patient’s own harvested cells back into the body, seem much more effective.