Immunotherapeutics: new vaccine technology

A vaccine involves the administration of an agent to an individual that will stimulate the immune system to react against the 'foreign' components of the vaccine. Unlike traditional vaccines, which stimulate the body's immune system to produce antibodies against a potential external infection, immunotherapeutic vaccines involve immunizing a patient. This causes the immune system to produce antibodies against an internal disease-causing substance, thereby treating the patient's existing condition. 

In comparison to other therapeutic approaches this potentially has significant benefits, including specificity of action, avoidance of side effects and long duration of action between booster doses. 

Progress in the field of immunotherapy, over the last 25 years, has led to the discovery of a number of potential antigens and antigen delivery systems. Currently a number of these immunotherapeutics are being evaluated in clinical trials to treat diseases like cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's desease, hypertension, infectious disease, etc.