“Angela Evatt lay face down under anaesthesia as surgeons removed a malignant mole from her back and a lymph node from her left armpit. The purpose of the operation was not only to excise the cancerous tissue from her body, but also to begin the process of crafting a personalized vaccine that would train Evatt’s immune system to attack any tumour cells left behind.

The vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA), carefully constructed to encode the unique mutant proteins, known as neoantigens, that are found on the surface of Evatt’s melanoma skin cancer cells…

As is typical of individual experiences in clinical trials, determining the precise impact of the vaccine on Evatt’s recovery is difficult. ‘It’s impossible to know,’ she says. ‘I’m just happy to be cancer-free.’ However, the trial that Evatt participated in is yielding promising data. According to the latest number-crunch from the 157-person study, the combination of vaccine and checkpoint inhibitor reduces the risk of disease recurrence by nearly 50% compared with treatment with the inhibitor alone. The latest analysis also indicates that the vaccine contributes to lifespan extension.”

From Nature.