Cancer ‘Vaccine’ Shows Promise In Clinical Trials

Scientist looks at cells through a fluorescent microscope at the laboratories at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute on December 9, 2014 in Cambridge, England.
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Results from a small clinical trial testing an experimental cancer “vaccine” showed promising results for patients with lymphoma.

On Monday, the journal Nature Medicine published results from a study conducted by researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital that showed their vaccine shrunk the size of cancer tumors, CNBC reported.

The study was conducted on only 11 patients, but the results were successful enough to test on other lymphoma patients and also on patients diagnosed with breast as well as head and neck cancer.

The vaccine is not like a traditional vaccine. It instead supplies cells with the ability to recognize tumors and destroy them. Researchers reportedly created the vaccine inside tumors by injecting them with a “stimulant to recruit immune cells” followed by a low dose of radiation. The stimulated cells reportedly moved through the body and destroyed tumors as they discovered them.

Three of the patients saw incredible results as the treatment not only shrunk the tumor that was treated, but it also shrunk other tumors that were not injected with the treatment. After the treatment, the patients were reportedly in remission. The study also reported that some patients went into “full remission for months or even years.”

Lead author of the study, Dr. Joshua Brody, said the treatment “has broad implications for multiple types of cancer.” He also said the treatment “could also increase the success of other immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockade.”

“It’s really promising, and the fact you get not only three areas, but areas outside the field [of treatment with radiation] is really significant,” said Dr. Silvia Formenti, a radiation oncologist in New York, who was not involved in the study.

Dr. Eric Jacobsen, oncologist and director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s lymphoma program, said that while the results were exciting, more research needed to be conducted.

“It’s definitely proof of concept, but larger studies are definitely needed and additional strategies to try to get more than three out of 11 patients to respond,” he said.

Jacobsen is also working on a different type of vaccine for treating lymphoma.

While the treatment holds more promise than anything ever seen before, larger trials are needed before they can be presented to the Food and Drug Administration for review, CNBC reported.

The Cancer Research Institute, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, and pharmaceutical company Merck funded the research.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an estimated 20,960 Americans died from lymphoma in 2018 with an estimated 83,180 new cases of lymphoma diagnosed.