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50 Years Ago

Anti-leukemia vaccine reported hope of future

Excerpt from the May 16, 1964, issue of Science News Letter

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3:45pm, May 1, 2014
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An anti-leukemia vaccine to prevent cancer of the blood-forming organs was reported as a possibility if, as experiments indicate, virus-like particles are proved to cause malignancy.

The development of such a vaccine is not foreseeable in the immediate future, Dr. W. H. Murphy of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, said, but there is basis for “cautious optimism, rather than the stark pessimism which has been the feeling to date.” A leukemia-like disease has been produced in mice by virus-like particles taken from children with leukemia. Science News Letter, May 16, 1964

Update

While no preventive vaccine has come to pass, research on using leukemia vaccines as treatments has yielded some promising results. In 2013, researchers reported using personalized vaccines containing patients’ own cancer cells, irradiated to inactivate them, to stimulate the immune system to mop up remaining cancer cells after chemotherapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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