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Could destructive, invasive, and often ineffective cancer treatments like surgery and chemotherapy be replaced with a vaccine?

Tune in for the answer, and to discover:

  • Why it is difficult to generate funding for true translational work between the clinic and the lab
  • Why autoimmunity is “almost necessary” for the effectiveness of immunotherapies
  • How and why vaccine therapy could effectively treat cancer
  • Whether the gut microbiome can alter the effectiveness of some immunotherapies

Brendon Coventry is an associate professor of surgery and medical researcher from Adelaide, South Australia. Splitting his time between the clinic and the lab, Coventry stresses the importance of true translational work, and encourages increased funding for it.

He explains how he became interested in studying immunology early on in his education, when he discovered phagocytosis and the immune surveillance hypothesis of cancer. He also discusses how all cancer therapies—surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy—interact with the immune system, revealing a new understanding of cancer and the therapies most commonly used to treat it.

This ties into Coventry’s more recent work on vaccines as a therapeutic for cancer. He refers to these vaccines as complex or “dirty” rather than pure. In fact, he says the purer the vaccine, the less effective at treating cancer.

Coventry  shares a story of the effectiveness of a particular vaccine in treating a patient with multiple recurring melanomas, and a small study which showed very promising results in cancer patients who received vaccine therapy.

At this point, his efforts are focused on developing a better understanding of why and how vaccines might effectively treat cancer, hoping that this could potentially lead to the development of more selective, effective vaccines for this purpose.

Press play for the full conversation.

Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C

Here are the links to some of the papers that Brendon Coventry mentioned in the Podcast:

Coventry Vaccines August 2019 2515135519862234

Coventry VMCL JITC 2014 2051-1426-2-9

Coventry_CMAR-76163-long-term-survival-in-advanced-melanoma-patients-using-repea_042915-2

Immune Evolution & Cancer 2021 971412da-1bdd-48d3-b258-a1648862b96f_6718_-_brendon_coventry_v3

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