Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs: Prostate Cancer Vaccine

Medical Breakthroughs
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Men suffering from prostate cancer must also suffer the side effects of treatment. These can often cause more mental anguish than the disease itself. Now a new treatment that could stop the cancer without the side effects.

[CG AT :40 Dr. Johannes Vieweg/Researcher, Duke Univ]

Prostate cancer patients like Bob Anderson not only battle cancer, they also battle the side effects of treatments like chemotherapy.

"In addition to killing the cancer cells it also kills your red blood cells, your white blood cells,” say Dr. Johannes Vieweg, a researcher at Duke University.

And often, it kills energy. Bob used to play tennis, ski and hike.

"All of those things are impacted to the point where I just generally am not able to participate in them anymore,” Dr. Vieweg says.

Now a new vaccine could eliminate those draining side effects. Researchers from Duke University removed immune cells form cancer patients sensitized them to the cancer and re-injected them into the patients' bloodstream. There, they activated other immune cells to attack.

"The miracle is that these cells only attack cancer cells, but no normal cells so I think we have a very specific and targeted therapy which has no side effects whatsoever,” adds Vieweg.

Doctors say the vaccine may not eliminate the cancer altogether, but may keep it from spreading.

"In the next decade I think we will find improvements to these strategies and completely tackle the cancer puzzle and hopefully can cure patients in the future,” says Dr. Vieweg.

Just the prospect for an easier treatment is enough for Bob.

"Even if it only lasted for a short period of time and didn't actually cure the cancer, but allowed my body to recover, would allow me to maintain a reasonable lifestyle,” Dr. Vieweg adds.

Although Duke researcher have found the vaccine to be safe, more testing is needed to determine just how effective it is in fighting prostate and other forms of cancer.