Question asked by: 
Attendee of Ask the Experts event, Manchester
Date asked: 
Jun 2014
Are there clinical trials for vaccines in ovarian cancer?
I think in terms of vaccines, the really exciting area is the broader area of immunotherapy.
Response by Professor Richard Edmondson, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology

Recently in the news, there was mention of some of the big breakthroughs in melanoma where, instead of targeting the tumour per se you start to target the patient’s own immune response and try and improve that and interact with the immune system and the tumour itself. 

It’s still at that stage where it’s very early days and a lot could happen before it gets translated into proper clinically meaningful treatments but it does seem to be the hot topic of the day. The whole concept of immunotherapy and vaccines is very interesting and maybe we’ve spent too long concentrating on the tumour when we ought to have paid a little bit more attention to the patient who is hosting the tumour, and that interaction.

However, trying to target cancer with the immune system requires a level of fundamental understanding that we haven’t yet got a full grasp of and rushing to produce vaccines before we really understand how they work can lead to false dawns.