In 10 seconds? Many types of cancer vaccines have been developed to treat cancer, each with varying levels of success. Lessons learned from existing cancer vaccines have delineated key factors that drive success.

Wait, what’s a cancer vaccine? To start, in general terms, vaccines are scientific tools used to generate a specific immune response meant to prevent or help the body fend off disease. Vaccines were first developed to prevent infectious diseases (AKA prophylactic vaccines). As our understanding of the mechanics of how vaccines activate our immune system expanded, researchers started developing vaccines to treat diseases that have suboptimal immune activation, like cancer (AKA therapeutic vaccines). In sum, therapeutic cancer vaccines are treatments that generate a cancer-killing immune response–and are one of today’s hottest cancer treatment approaches.

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