A therapeutic vaccine is one that is administered after an infection or disease has already afflicted a person. People sometimes ask ‘What is a therapeutic vaccine?’, because it is different to the vaccines they are more familiar with which are used to prevent an infection or disease – these are called prophylactic vaccines. Therapeutic vaccines function by activating the immune system of a patient to help fight a disease or infection rather than immunizing the person against the possibility of contracting the disease or infection in the future. These types of vaccines are used mostly to combat viral infections. Patients that are suffering from chronic viral attacks are administered these vaccines to help their immune system to create antibodies to fight the virus. One of the first therapeutic vaccines was developed to help treat prostate cancer. This vaccine was created using the patient’s own white blood cells which were treated so that they recognized cancer cells and destroyed them.
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