Cancer 'vaccine' shows promise in human trial of lymphoma patients

Henrietta Strickland
April 11, 2019

Tumors are essentially turned into "cancer vaccine factories" after they are injected with the treatment, Science Daily reported. These distorted cells often form tumors that can spread, making it hard to treat.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital have developed a new cancer immunotherapy process that teaches the immune system to destroy tumor cells in the body.

The treatment was referred to as an "in situ vaccine", which involved injecting a succession of immune stimulants to one tumor site. They saw that these stimulants then recruited and instructed dendritic cells and T-cells, both important immune systems to kill cancer cells and keep the healthy cells.

The newly activated immune cells could then locate tumors throughout the body and attack them.

"It's really promising, and the fact you get not only responses in treated areas, but areas outside the field [of treatment with radiation] is really significant", Dr. Silvia Formenti, a chairwoman of radiation oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian who is now developing a similar treatment, told CNBC.

Brody explained that this new therapy acts as a vaccine and boost the effects of an immunotherapy called "checkpoint blockade".

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in NY tested an experimental treatment on 11 patients with lymphoma, and published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine on Monday. Their results were successful enough to warrant another clinical trial in March on lymphoma patients as well as breast and head-and-neck cancer.

The researchers are hopeful that the combination of these therapies could be particularly effective for multiple types of cancers, and with cancer being the leading cause of death worldwide, we can't think of better news.

The researchers explain that this new immunotherapy involves the use of injections of two types of immunostimulants.

After testing the lymphoma vaccine in the lab, it was tested in 11 patients in a clinical trial.

"The dendritic cells are learning the lesson ... and telling it to the T-cells", Dr. Brody told the publication. Researchers now hope to train the body's immune system to fight disease.

Patients first received nine daily injections of an immune stimulant meant to "recruit" dendritic cells by teaching them how to recognize cancerous cells, the study authors said. "Generals don't really fight wars, they make the plans", Brody said calling the dendritic cells Generals to the T cell army.

This research was funded by The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the Cancer Research Institute, and Merck.

However, she noted that really only three of the 11 patients in the initial clinical trial had truly meaningful responses to the vaccine.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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