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Scientists develop personalized ‘Cancer Vaccines’ which can help fight against tumors and prevent them from growing back

CANCER JAB - Personalized vaccines 'which help fight off cancer safe to use' following testing

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A personalized cancer vaccine that can help the body fight off cancer has been tested and is safe to use, according to a new study.

Scientists say the jab, which shows our immune system what part of the body to target, could be used to treat many types of cancer, including lung and bladder, which often come back.

The most common treatments for cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, although other options include immune and hormone therapy.

Now, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, have developed a vaccine that could increase people’s chances of survival and prevent tumors from growing back.

Study author Dr. Thomas Marron said: “While immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of cancer, the vast majority of patients do not experience a significant clinical response with such treatments.

“Cancer vaccines, which typically combine tumor-specific targets that the immune system can learn to recognize and attack to prevent recurrence of cancer.

“The vaccine also contains an adjuvant that primes the immune system to maximize the efficacy.”

The researchers conducted a phase I clinical trial involving 13 patients, 10 with a solid tumor diagnosis and three with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells.

To generate the personalized vaccine they sequenced DNA from each patient’s reproductive cells and tumours, a process dubbed the OpenVax pipeline.

They also identified where the patient’s tumor was located to see whether their immune system would recognize the vaccine’s targets.

Patients received 10 doses of the personalized vaccine over a six-month period following any standard cancer treatment such as surgery or a bone marrow transplant.

Vaccines were given with an immune system stimulant called poly-ICLC to help combat the growing tumors.

After two and a half years (880 days), four patients still had no trace of cancer, four were receiving other kinds of treatment and four had died.

Author Professor Nina Bhardwaj said: “Most experimental personalized cancer vaccines are administered in the metastatic setting, but prior research indicates that immunotherapies tend to be more effective in patients who have less cancer spread.

“We have therefore developed a neoantigen vaccine that is administered after standard-of-care adjuvant therapy, such as surgery in solid tumours and bone marrow transplant in multiple myeloma, when patients have minimal, typically microscopic, residual disease.”

All round, the jab was well received, with only a few patients displaying minor irritation around where they were injected.

Professor Bhardwaj said: “Our results demonstrate that the OpenVax pipeline is a viable approach to generate a safe, personalized cancer vaccine, which could potentially be used to treat a range of tumour types.”

Blood tests also revealed the vaccine triggered an immune response against the cancer in one of the patients.

Also, two others responded well to immunotherapy cancer treatment after getting the vaccine.

Prof Bhardwaj added: “A phase 1 trial’s primary goal is to determine the safety of an experimental treatment, which was achieved in this trial.”

The findings were presented at the virtual annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

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