Cancer is a scourge leading to frequent loss of life.
In part from the aging process, the environment, genetics and chance, cells all too frequently turn cancerous. The normal regulation of division and growth goes unchecked and the population of mutated cells spiral out of control.
The immune system may often be able to detect and destroy these cells once they arise, but unfortunately some mutants evade detection. One avenue of cancer treatment involves vaccine therapy. By priming the immune system to detect cancer cells, treatment is improved.
New York’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute has announced the launch of a landmark Phase I trial of a new vaccine method they have developed.
The vaccine is a dendritic cell vaccine “designed to both eradicate cancer cells and prevent disease relapse,” says Roswell.
Dendritic cells are the gatekeepers of the immune system. The Roswell technique removes patient’s own dendrite cells and arms them with a particular protein called antiDEC205-NY-ESO-1. Once armed with this protein the cells can “recruit an army of killer immune cells that seek out and destroy cancer,” explains Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD.
The vaccine will be administered along with Rapamycin, a drug that seems to allow a stretched out sustained immune response as opposed the usual short burst seen in response to infections.
In order for the vaccine to work, the patient’s cancer has to express the protein NY-ESO-1. This protein is not found in any normal tissue except the male testis but is often expressed in many forms of cancer.
The vaccine will be tailor-made for each patient at the Roswell facility. It is expected it will be effective across a wide array of cancer types. These include cancers of bladder, brain, breast, esophageal, gastrointestinal, hepatocellular, kidney, lung, melanoma, ovarian, prostate, sarcoma and uterine tumors.
The initial Phase I trial will examine the effects in a small group of 18 to 20 eligible patients.
Source (Roswell Park Cancer Institute)