In a phase one trial, doctors gave the vaccine to women who'd been treated for advanced ovarian cancer, and of the 22 women who received the shot, 18 showed a positive immune response. That's according to Dr. Kunle Odunsi who helped develop the vaccine.
"It's almost like getting a flu shot. When you get a flu vaccine, you are training your body's immune system to recognize and kill the flu virus if you get infected," says Dr. Odunsi.
He says it appears to work in women, because the vaccine is made from a protein found only in men. The protein is similar to those in cancer cells, so whenever a woman's immune system detects it, it kills it, and by doing so, may reduce the risk of recurrence.
One of the women in the study was Christine Sable. There was an 80% that her cancer cells would grow back after she received the vaccine, but nearly five years after diagnosis they haven't.
In the second phase of the trial, doctors are testing a more powerful form of the vaccine. If they continue to see success, researchers say the vaccine may be on the market in the next five years. They say the treatment may also show promise in prostate, breast and colon cancers.