What Is TroVax®?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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TroVax® is a therapeutic vaccine that is used to fight late-stage cancer. It works by increasing the body’s immune response to cancer cells. The injection was developed because it is believed that cancer often grows because the body does not distinguish its cell growth as abnormal. This drug is meant to counteract that effect by serving as a warning to the body. It is primarily used to treat prostate and colon cancer, though studies have been conducted to determine other uses for the injection.

The drug works by both killing cancer cells that grow on existing tumors and preventing new growth. It is meant to prolong life rather than provide a cure for late-stage cancer patients. TroVax® contains a virus which has been engineered so that it is no longer harmful to the body, but contains a protein that is found on tumors. The body recognizes this protein as dangerous and will begin an immune response against it. This response causes the body to destroy a particular antigen which causes the growth of cancer cells.

TroVax® can be prescribed alone or in combination with other drugs. It can also be administered at different times during other cancer treatments. For example, it may be given to the patient before or during chemotherapy.


In addition to prostate cancer, studies have been conducted to determine if TroVax® can be used for cancers such as breast, ovary, and those related to exposure to asbestos. It is also believed to be an effective treatment for kidney cancer. This is particularly because the protein in the injection is similar to that found on kidney cancer cells.

TroVax® was created in the hopes that vaccinations could become a standard method of treating cancer. Some of the benefits of this method include easy administration, direct delivery into the bloodstream, and few documented side effects.

The medication was developed by Oxford BioMedica, a biopharmaceutical company that works primarily with gene-based drugs. TroVax® was its first major product. Oxford BioMedica suffered a setback in 2008 when TroVax® failed to achieve its objectives in a kidney cancer trial. It was found that poor blood chemistry was likely the reason the drug failed, however. Subsequent trials have required that the subjects have a blood test to determine a good fit before administration of the drug.


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