The FDA approved Dendreon’s (DNDN) novel prostate cancer treatment yesterday, sending shares of the biotech firm flying up. It will be the first ‘therapeutic vaccine’ for cancer to reach the market after decades of efforts by pharmaceutical firms and researchers, and works by prompting the body to attack prostate tumors. At $93,000 per patient, however, the treatment is expensive, and some insurers may balk at covering those costs.
MORE INFO: I was confused if this was a preventative vaccine or for someone who already has prostate cancer. After more research, I found out that this is for men with advanced forms of the disease. This also has potential as a new approach for treating all sorts of cancers.
Rather than target the cancer like a drug, this treatment stimulates a patient’s own immune system to attack the tumor, and works the same way as a preventive vaccine.
How does a vaccine work?
Vaccines help a body prepare in advance to fight illnesses and potentially deadly diseases. Essentially, vaccines give the body a preview of a bacterium, virus, or toxin, allowing it to learn how to defend itself in advance. If the body is ever invaded by that particular pathogen after the vaccine has done its work, the body’s immune system is ready.