University of Georgia Cancer Center


Today’s vaccines prevent diseases by priming the immune system to recognize and attack viruses and bacteria. Researchers at the UGA Cancer Center are developing an entirely new class of vaccines called therapeutic vaccines that fight existing diseases. They’ve created a vaccine that has shown promise in teaching the immune system to recognize molecules unique to cancer cells so that the body can attack them before they can spread.

Geert-Jan Boons

Department of Chemistry

Franklin Professor

Geert-Jan  Boons

When cells become cancerous, the sugars on their surfaces undergo distinct changes that set them apart from healthy cells. Boons has synthesized a vaccine that, in mice, has successfully triggered a strong immune response to cancer cells. His group is currently testing and refining the vaccine, and hopes to start clinical trials in humans soon.