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How cancer vaccine research is providing hope

You can donate to the UW Cancer Vaccine Institute at Safeway check stands throughout March. Sponsored by Safeway Albertsons.

SEATTLE — The Cancer Vaccine Institute (CVI) at the University of Washington is working to complement existing cancer treatments and prevent the disease from returning through the development of vaccines and immunotherapies.

“Over the years as we identified that there are proteins that stimulate the immune system and cancer patients do have immunity to those proteins, except it’s very low level, it was an obvious thing to try to develop cancer vaccines to boost that immunity,” said Dr. Nora Disis, UW Cancer Vaccine Institute director.

The CVI’s cancer vaccines are multi-antigenic vaccines, which means they are designed to train the immune system to recognize several proteins found on cancer cells, and then destroy those cancer cells, wherever they exist in the body.

“We are really at a tipping point right now for cancer vaccines,” Dr. Disis said.

The CVI currently has more than 10 vaccines in development, including vaccines for breast, ovarian, lung, prostate, colon, and bladder cancers. Vaccines can be used for both treatment and prevention, including for patients who have had cancer and want to prevent it from coming back.

Cancer vaccines are advancing quickly, and several companies are moving vaccines into large clinical trials.

“I would say, based on our work and the work of others who are developing cancer vaccines rapidly, we’ll probably have vaccines approved for cancer within the next five to eight years,” Dr. Disis said.

CVI receives funding from the government and private foundations and through philanthropy.

“We need to get funding from a lot of sources,” Dr. Disis said. “It really takes a village to get these vaccines to the clinic.”

To help fund this innovative research, you can make a donation at Safeway check stands throughout March. To learn more about the work of the UW Cancer Vaccine Institute, visit their website.

Sponsored by Safeway Albertsons. Segment Producer Suzie Wiley. Watch New Day Northwest at 11 a.m. weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.

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