What is Dendritic Cell Therapy?
Dendritic cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that is used to treat cancer. It is also known as the Dendritic cell vaccine.
How Does It Work?
The most unique attribute of Dendritic cell therapy is that it is completely customized to each person and their individual cancer.
In order to create this vaccine, a blood sample is drawn from the patient. The sample is sent to the lab where it is studied and treated in order to create an individualized treatment that will operate against the cancerous cells.
Some clinics such as Sanoviv perform a full autologous process, in which a biopsy sample is also taken directly from the patient’s tumor.
In these cases, when a biopsy sample is taken, at the same time, an additional blood sample is drawn as well. Both samples are then taken to a lab where they are studied and treated in order to make a vaccine that will operate against the cells that constitute the patient’s cancer.
Each vaccine is completely unique and literally, one of a kind.
How Is the Dendritic Cell Vaccine Made?
In the lab, technicians locate specific cells in the patient’s blood that can be used to generate the vaccine.
These cells are called macrophytes. A macrophyte is a type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and later when it matures, it becomes a dendritic cell.
These macrophytes are “trained” in the lab to become the strongest possible “fighter cells.” Part of this process involves testing them, changing their microenvironment, and putting them in contact with growth factors.
After all of this, the cells are then put in contact with toxins that generate an immune response, and are bathed with an inflammatory stimulus that activates them.
Once activated, the primed immune cells are introduced to the tumor cells in the lab.
Dendritic cells have the ability to generate specific “memories” and then use them later to know what to target, so after being introduced to the cells from the tumor in the lab, they are able to ‘remember’ and recognize them again when they encounter these cancer cells in the body.
With this information, dendritic cells then instruct the body to fight against certain kinds of antigens, recognize specific pathogens of the cancer, etc., and by doing so, are able to turn on the body’s immune response against the patient’s exact type of cancer.
How Does a Patient Receive the Dendritic Cell Vaccine?
The process described above takes roughly about a week. Upon its completion, the vaccine is then injected into the patient, usually as close as possible to the tumor site, near lymphatic nodes.
The patient generally receives between 4-6 vaccine shots per sample, usually on a weekly basis, though some doctors may recommend twice a week for some patients.
According to Isaac Meza, M.D., and Jose Luis Flores, Ph.D. Molecular Biomedicine, Sanoviv’s Medical Director and Head Research Scientist respectively, it is of the utmost importance for a patient to undergo integrative treatment while receiving dendritic cell therapy.
Factors such as detoxification, a patient’s environment, nutrition and psychological state all weigh in heavily on any type of immunotherapy for cancer. It is highly recommended to integrate the vaccine as part of a full program that addresses all aspects of healing. Most clinics do not offer dendritic cell therapy on its own.
What Are the Side Effects of Dendritic Cell Therapy?
Possible side effects can include chills or a mild fever when receiving the vaccine.
The History of Dendritic Cell Therapy
Dr. William Coley is attributed with recognizing the interaction between cancer cells and the immune system in the 1890s. He went on to treat his patients with a form of a therapy called Coley’s Toxins which led to the development of Dendritic cell therapy vaccines today. The first clinical trial of dendritic cell therapy was launched in 1996 and the first dendritic cell vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2010 under the name Sipuleucel-T (Provenge).
Special thanks to Sanoviv clinic, Isaac Meza, M.D., Sanoviv Medical Director, and Jose Luis Flores, Ph.D., Molecular Biomedicine, Sanoviv Head Research Scientist for their breakdown of Dendritic Cell Therapy.