A new ovarian cancer vaccine has shown promise in clinical trials. The cancer vaccine relies on an innovative two-step immunotherapy approach, the first step of which is to manufacture a personalized dendritic cell vaccine by exposing the patient's dendritic cells to tumour tissue collected during surgery. The primed dendritic cells are then sent back into the body to raise the immune system alarm if they detect the cancer.
The researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania report that in the study of 31 patients, 19 of the patients showed positive responses. Of these 19 patients, 7 had no measurable disease at the end of the study.
A second wave of the study was to give adoptive T-cell therapy, where T cells are removed from the body, stimulated and expanded in the laboratory, and then reinjected back into the body to enhance the immune response. While vaccination therapy alone showed a 61% clinical benefit, a combination of vaccination followed by adoptive T-cell therapy showed 75% clinical benefit.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States, and takes the lives of more than 14,000 women each year.
"We are preventing progression of already existing disease," Lana Kandalaft, the study's lead researcher, told Bloomberg. "Most of the patients are now on maintenance vaccine, just to keep the system going. We haven't seen them recur. We are seeing how long they can go."
The vaccine is given in combination with Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab) – a VEGF inhibitor that blocks blood vessel growth to the tumour. The size of the study is of course too small to draw any real comparisons between this immunotherapy and current best treatment for ovarian cancer, but these results seem positive enough to get excited about ovarian cancer vaccines.
“This is the first time such a combination immunotherapy approach has been used for patients with ovarian cancer, and we believe the results are leading us toward a completely new way to treat this disease,” said Kandalaft.
What do you think? Are you excited by these results, or do you think it is still too early to tell?
Recently, research found that an engineering flaw may render some cancer vaccines ineffective.
You might be interested in reading about the promising results that novel cancer immunotherapy Flagrp-170 has recently shown in trials.
Why not join in our discussion about cancer vaccines on our LinkedIn discussion page.
If you want to hear more about the cancer vaccine landscape overview, including a talk on harnessing the power of the immune system to build strong cancer vaccines, you might be interested in attending the World Vaccine Congress & Expo 2013, 16-18 April 2013, at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, Washington DC. You can download the brochure here.