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AML VaccineThe most common type of leukemia in adults is called Acute myelogenous leukemia or AML. Despite the advances against other types of cancer, AML still has a five year survival rate of less than 25 percent.

Those odds may improve if a new treatment under development is successful.

Itís a cancer vaccine, but the idea is not to prevent the disease. Instead, itís for people already diagnosed with AML and programs their immune system to hunt down cancer cells and destroy them.

The immune system will then continue to recognize leukemic cells if they return, preventing a relapse. Thatís essential for a cancer like AML, which has a high relapse rate.

In people with AML, the cells that normally make white blood cells mutate and become cancer cells.

AML generally occurs around age 65 and is rare under age 40. Patients normally receive chemotheraphy, which also kills healthy cells. Other treatments may include bone marrow or stem cell transplants.

But unfortunately, the cancer often recurs.

Thatís unless the new vaccine treatment is effective. This is how it works. The vaccine is created first by removing the patientís own blood in order to isolate the leukemic cells.

Then researchers manipulate those cells in the lab. They use something called a lentivirus to introduce two proteins into the leukemic cells. These modified cells are then transfused back into the patient.

What that does is engineer AML cancer cells to make and place large amounts of these proteins on their surfaces which act like ID tags. This way the immune system will recognize them as foreign and destroy them.

This vaccine approach for AML is in Phase I clinical trials in England and in the U.S. Itís among the growing number of cancer treatments that specifically target tumors, giving patients a better shot at beating the disease.

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For more information…

The National Cancer Institute provides an online "Drug Dictionary" that defines the LV.IL-2/B7.1-transduced AML blast vaccine described in this episode. It also provides links to information about clinical trials with the vaccine.
For more information…

The National Health Service in the United Kingdom has a web site called Choices: Your Health, your choices. They have an excellent story about the development and testing of the AML vaccine.
For more information…

A similar story can be read here.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. They host an extensive website that has excellent information about acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) here.

MedlinePlus will direct you to information to help answer health questions. MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news. They also have extensive information about AML here.


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