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      HealthWACH: Cancer vaccines

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - Cancer is one of the deadliest and most common diseases. Cancer develops when damaged cells rapidly divide and multiply, which can form lumps or tumors. These masses often affect circulatory, nervous, and digestive systems, disrupting the functioning of these systems. Signs and symptoms will vary depending on where the cancer is. Treatment will also depend on the location of the cancer and the severity of the disease.

      A tumor, known as neoplasm, is an irregular mass of cells that are classified as benign, pre-malignant, or malignant. A benign tumor is a non-cancerous mass that cannot spread throughout the body. Pre-malignant tumors are often known as pre-cancerous tumors, meaning there is a good chance that they will develop into cancer cells. A malignant tumor is a cancer tumor that grows and makes the cancer worse. In some cases, these tumors cause fatalities in patients with very little notice. These types of tumors are known to spread and multiply at a quicker rate than other cells.

      Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic are using an idea called the retired protein hypothesis to hopefully one day be able to develop a preventative vaccine for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Essentially, the retired protein hypothesis uses our bodyâ??s own immune system to attack tumors and cancerous cells. As we age, certain proteins in our body stop being expressed in normal tissue. But if a tumor develops, the proteins will be expressed in those. Researchers are hoping a vaccine can help aim our bodyâ??s natural defensive mechanisms to target these proteins, which are no longer present in healthy tissue but only in cancerous tissue. Doctors have been working for 11 years on research and development, and according to Dr. Vincent Tuohy, have done nearly all of the animal research they need, and are moving on to pre-clinical testing soon.