OncoVAX® is a proprietary method for using a patient’s own tumor to prevent cancer from returning after surgery. Once removed, the tumor is taken apart cell by cell and manufactured into an injectable, sterile vaccine. However, simply injecting tumor cells into a patient is not enough to generate a potent immune response against the cancer cells remaining in the body. The vaccine requires an adjuvant, or immune stimulator, to effectively pull the mask off the cancer cells and expose them for what they are: diseased cells which need to be destroyed. In this case, we use Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a bacterium which tricks the immune system into recognizing previously hidden cancer cells as a foreign invader.
OncoVAX® is delivered in four doses: the first two include BCG, the last two are simply the cancer cells alone. During the first two injections, a large welt (or induration), forms at the injection site. This is the physical evidence that the patient’s immune system is launching an attack on all the cells: bacteria and cancer. The last two injections also form indurations, a reaction which would not have occurred without the prior “training” injections. This is the ultimate proof that the immune system has been potently trained to recognize these “self” cells as foreign. Now, the patient has all the biological information necessary to find any remaining tumor cells which may have been missed during surgery and destroy them. This biological training is what reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and the molecular memory created provides long-term disease protection, an added advantage not provided by chemotherapy or targeted agents.