Disclaimer: Consult with a doctor before deciding on a treatment plan for cancer or any other disease.
Quick Summary

There are a variety of different types of cancer vaccines that have been developed, but none are well-known in the United States. Outside of the U.S., however, vaccines such as RigVir provide hope to patients with many different types of cancers. The RigVir vaccine is available in a number of countries outside of the U.S. including both Mexico and Latvia.

UPDATE: RigVir production has been halted after 16 years of production because (similar to many other effective cancer cures) scientific studies were tampered with during trials that were meant to make RigVir available to all Europeans.

Detailed Information

There are 2 kinds of cancer vaccines:

 

1) prevention (or prophylactic) vaccines and

2) treatment (or therapeutic) vaccines.

 

Currently, the FDA has approved three cancer prevention vaccines:

 

  • The HPV vaccine

 

HPV is considered an anti-cancer vaccine because if an individual catches HPV and has the virus for a long time, they can develop cervical, vaginal, vulvar, oral, and anal cancer. Unfortunately, vaccination with the HPV vaccine can cause chronic pain and other undesirable effects so, in many countries it is no longer in use [1][11].

 

  • The hepatitis B vaccine

 

Liver cancer may develop if hepatitis B is left untreated [1].

 

  • Provenge (sipuleucel-T)

 

This vaccine has been approved for prostate cancer and has been shown to increase survival rates by about 4 months.

 

  • T-VEC/Imlygic (also known as talimogene laherparepvec)

 

This vaccine was approved for metastatic melanoma that cannot be surgically removed [2].

 

Politics

 

Very few cancer vaccines are available in the United States, and those that are available (such as the HPV vaccine) cause severe side effects. The RIGVIR vaccine is one of the first and most well-known cancer vaccines in countries outside of the U.S. The Latvian government provides RIGVIR vaccine treatments for free to patients with melanoma. But American websites distribute the propaganda that this vaccine is “dubious” and “quackery” because it is derived from a naturally occurring substance and therefore not patentable (which mean it is not profitable the way that chemo and radiation are profitable to Big Pharma). In other countries however, immunotherapy and cancer vaccination using RigVir, both as a preventive and as a stand-alone cancer treatment, is well-known.

 

But although currently the use of cancer vaccines is practically nonexistent in the United States, this wasn’t always the case. More than a century ago in 1891, a bone sarcoma surgeon named William B. Coley injected streptococcal organisms into a patient with inoperable cancer. His goal was to harness the immune effects and fever caused by a strep infection to minimize the size of the patient’s tumor. The experiment was successful, and Coley continued working with this concept by injecting cancer patients with bacteria to treat their cancers (specifically working with bone and soft-tissue sarcomas). The products Coley used on his patients eventually came to be known as Coley’s Toxins.

 

However, despite the encouraging results, Coley’s Toxins were subject to much scrutiny in conventional medicine in the U.S., and many doctors disapproved of the treatment even though it had excellent results. Over time, the treatment was used less and less, and in 1920 Coley’s Toxins were faced with resistance from the Bone Sarcoma Registry, which deemed that the success shown by the treatment were due to incorrect diagnoses in the patients being treated. By 1962, the FDA denied Coley’s Toxins as a legitimate treatment/drug for cancer. The treatment eventually became illegal in the United States.

 

Although Coley’s Toxins aren’t specifically used in cancer vaccines today, the concept behind this early immunotherapy treatment holds true and is the underlying idea behind many modern cancer vaccines [5].

 

Safety and Effectiveness

 

HPV

 

The HPV vaccine (commonly administered in the United States) can have severe side effects and poses safety concerns for those who take it. Some of the more dangerous side effects of the HPV vaccine include:

 

  • blood clots in the legs and lungs
  • strokes
  • chronic pain
  • seizures
  • kidney failure
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • vomiting and diarrhea resulting in dehydration [8][11]

 

RigVir

 

The RIGVIR vaccine is considered safe with no serious side effect being noted. The only common side effect is a subfebrile temperature for a period of time after vaccination. Rare side effects are pain in the tumor area, fatigue, sleepiness, and diarrhea [4]. The customized vaccine solutions offered in the Cayman Islands by Perseus PCI have also been shown to be extremely safe, with the only observed side effect being a low-grade fever (similar to RIGVIR) [9].

Autologous Cancer Vaccines

 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston did a series of human trials using personalized cancer vaccines with largely successful results. Six patients were admitted to this study, all with a high chance of recurrence of cancer after having their tumors removed in surgery. The patients each had a unique vaccine made to suit their individual cancer and the neoantigens in their body. After injection, 4 out of the 6 patients showed no signs of recurrence after 25 months [10],

 

A similar study in Germany by Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech)) used 13 patients with melanoma to create personalized vaccines using up to 10 different neoantigens to target each patient’s cancer. In this study, after 12-23 months 8 patients had no recurrence of their cancer [10].

 

How Cancer Vaccines Are Administered

 

Most cancer treatment vaccines work by activating cytotoxic T cells in the body and then guiding them toward cancer cells, which have been made visible to the body’s immune system through the production of antibodies that attach themselves to the surface of cancer cells. [2] There are different kinds of cancer treatment vaccines that work in different ways, outlined briefly below:

 

 

Antigen vaccines

 

These vaccines use the extraction of special cancer cell proteins, which can activate the body’s immune system defenses to kill cancer cells. Scientists have isolated many of the genetic codes for these proteins, so these vaccines can be made ahead of time [3].

 

There are four primary types of antigen vaccines, listed below:

 

  • Peptide-based vaccines
  • Heat shock protein vaccines
  • DNA vaccines
  • Viral and bacterial vector vaccines

 

Whole cell vaccines

 

In comparison to antigen vaccines, the whole cell vaccine uses whole cancer cells to stimulate the body’s immune system rather than using a particular cancer cell protein to alert the immune system to the cancer cell’s presence. Whole cell vaccines can be made using one’s own cancer cells, another patient’s cancer cells, or lab-grown cancer cells [3].

 

Five Categories

 

These vaccines fall into 5 basic categories:

 

  • Autologous vaccines – These use the patient’s actual cancer cells in the vaccine.

 

  • Allogeneic vaccines – These use the cancer cells of a different patient with the same kind of cancer.

 

  • Gene-modified vaccines – These use either the patient’s own cancer cells or those of another patient. The cells are modified in a lab to give the cells various properties that enhance the body’s ability to kill cancer cells. [6]

 

  • Dendritic cell vaccines: These vaccines use dendritic cells (which are antigen-presenting cells) to assist the immune system in removing cancer cells and other abnormal cells. The dendritic cells are grown in a lab with the cancer cells [3].

 

  • Anti-idiotype vaccines: These vaccines work by encouraging the body to develop antibodies against cancer cells [3].

 

 

Adjuvants are sometimes added to anticancer vaccines to assist in boosting the body’s immune response to cancer cells. These substances may come from a variety of sources, both biological and non-biological, including particular microbes, bacteria-produced materials such as Detox B, KLH (keyhole limpet hemocyanin), montanide ISA-51, and cytokines (produced by white blood cells to regulate and enhance immune response) [2].

 

RigVir

 

The RIGVIR vaccine is administered as a part of a series of injections over a period of about 3 years as an ambulatory care treatment. RIGVIR is an oncolytic and oncotropic virotherapy that consists of a live, unmodified, non-pathogenic ECHO-7 virus that specifically targets and kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Injections of RIGVIR are intramuscular, and the virus starts working on the cancer immediately.  

In addition to destroying cancer cells, RIGVIR boosts the patient’s immune system and encourages the body to produce more immune cells in the lymph nodes. By attaching itself to the surface of cancer cells, the RIGVIR virus alerts the body’s immune cells to the presence of cancer cells and allows the body to also work to kill cancer cells. Almost no side effects are present with the use of RIGVIR, with the primary side effect being a reversible subfebrile temperature (a body temperature slightly above normal) for about 1-3 days.

RIGVIR’s primary use is in the treatment of melanoma, although clinic trials are currently underway regarding its use on other cancers (these have so far been successful on a wide variety of cancers, such as:

 

  • Stomach cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Other types of cancer.

 

It should also be noted that this particular cancer vaccine isn’t used in children under age 18, nor is it used in combination with radiation and/or chemotherapy treatment [4].

 

Possible Negative Effects

 

Cancer vaccines may result in the following side effects (these side effects can occur as a result of administering any vaccine):

 

  • Inflammation, redness, pain, swelling itchiness, warming of the skin, and sometimes a rash at or around the site of injection

 

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, weakness, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, muscle ache, fatigue, headache, and breathing difficulties in some situations

 

  • Blood pressure changes

 

In rare cases, cancer vaccines may result in:

 

  • Asthma
  • Appendicitis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus [2]

 

Other Important Information

 

Whole cell and antigen vaccine solutions engineered from the patient’s own cancer cells can be found in the Cayman Islands from a company called Perseus PCI (Personalized Cancer Immunotherapy). The treatment offered at this company is a 4-month treatment involving 1 injection per month. The cost for the trip to the Cayman Islands and the treatment itself is about $95,000 USD [7][9].

 

The RIGVIR vaccine isn’t available in the United States. Clinics in the following countries offer the vaccine however:

 

  • Latvia
  • Mexico
  • Georgia
  • Armenia
  • Germany
  • There are various other locations in Europe

 

Government entities that are roughly equivalent to the FDA in the United States have approved the sale of RIGVIR in pharmacies with a prescription in Latvia, Georgia, and Armenia. Patients and relatives can transport RIGVIR with them to other countries as long as they have the appropriate documentation. The medicine must be kept frozen during the journey [4].

 

Other cancer vaccines that utilize viruses to fight cancer include:  

  • CimaVax EFG vaccine

CimaVax EFG uses the Neisseria meningitides virus, and can be found in Cuba at the Molecular Immunology Center and in the United States at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The CimaVax EFG vaccine is still undergoing clinical trials in Cuba and the U.S., and researchers at this point are seeing signs that this particular vaccine may result in a chronic, though manageable cancer.

 

  • PVS-RIPO vaccine.

 

The PVS-RIPO vaccine uses genetically engineered poliovirus, and works similarly to the RIGVIR vaccine in that it selectively attacks cancer cells without harming healthy cells, and also that it stimulates the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. Clinical trials are underway at Duke University, and are currently focused on glioblastoma brain tumors (although the vaccine may be able to treat other cancers as well) [7].

Related Posts:

7 Cancer Vaccines Everyone Should Know About

Resources

 

[1] N.A. (2016). What are Cancer Vaccines? Retrieved March 20, 2018 from: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/immunotherapy-and-vaccines/what-are-cancer-vaccines

 

[2] National Cancer Institute (2015). Cancer Vaccines. Retrieved March 20, 2018 from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/vaccines-fact-sheet

 

[3] Cancer Research UK (2017). Vaccines to treat cancer. Retrieved March 20, 2018 from: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/immunotherapy/types/vaccines-to-treat-cancer

 

[4] RIGVIR (n.d.). RIGVIR. Retrieved March 21, 2018 from: http://rigvir.com/rigvir/

[5] McCarthy, F. Edward MD (2006). The Toxins of William B. Coley and the Treatment of Bone and Soft-Tissue Sarcomas. Retrieved March 22, 2018 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1888599/

 

[6] N.A. (2016). Cancer Treatment Vaccines. Retrieved March 22, 2018 from: https://www.cancerquest.org/patients/treatments/vaccines-treat-cancer

 

[7] Scott, Dawn (2017). 7 Cancer Vaccines Everyone Should Know About. Retrieved March 23, 2018 from: http://alivenhealthy.com/2017/02/04/7-cancer-vaccines-everyone-should-know-about/

 

[8] Goldenholz, Shira (2017). Dangerous Gardasil Side Effects. Retrieved April 2, 2018 from: https://www.livestrong.com/article/185975-dangerous-gardasil-side-effects/

 

[9] Perseus PCI (2014). Effective and Safe Cancer Vaccine? Retrieved April 2, 2018 from: http://www.perseuspci.com/effective-safe-cancer-vaccine/

 

[10] Haridy, Rich (2017). Personalized cancer vaccines successful in first-stage human trials. Retrieved April 2, 2017 from: https://newatlas.com/cancer-personalized-vaccine-success-trial/50402/

[11] Cervantes, J. L., Hoanganh Doan, A. (2018). Discrepancies in the evaluation of the safety of the human papillomavirus vaccine. Retrieved May 27, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5967601/