Deborah Fuller in The Conversation:
How can a vaccine treat cancers or chronic infectious diseases?
T cell responses are very important for identifying cells infected with chronic diseases and aberrant cancer cells. They also play a big role in eliminating these cells from the body.
When a cell becomes cancerous, it starts producing neoantigens. In normal cases, the immune system detects these neoantigens, recognizes that something’s wrong with the cell and eliminates it. The reason some people get tumors is that their immune system isn’t quite capable of eliminating the tumor cells, so the cells propagate.
With an mRNA or DNA vaccine, the goal is to make your body better able to recognize the very specific neoantigens the cancer cell has produced. If your immune system can recognize and see those better, it will attack the cancer cells and eliminate them from the body.