Cancer vaccine trial begins in Buffalo

January 24, 2012 2:43:16 PM PST
People who fear cancer and those who are fighting are hopeful today from news coming from Buffalo.

It's the announcement of a new clinical trial to test a vaccine that many prevent cancer from recurring.

Researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo are attempting to harness a person's own immune system to destroy cancer cells.

The vaccine will focus on cells of the immune system known as Dendritic cells.

"These are the cells we are going to use in this clinical trial. They are the gatekeepers of the immune system and we have found a way to harness that critical role in a way to fight cancer," Dr. Kunle Odunsi of Roswell Park Cancer Institute said.

These cells are removed from a patient's blood and multiplied in a lab. Then, they'll be armed with a cancer protein called NY-ESO-1. When they're put back in the body, the new loaded immune cells can now recognize and kill cancer cells. Testing has shown good results.

"The results have been encouraging in ovarian cancer patients. Importantly, we have not seen any significant side effects from those vaccine trials," Dr. Odunsi said.

The researchers hope to begin a phase 1 trial immediately, and they will test against all different kinds of cancers: lung, breast brain, colon, kidney and more.

THe phase 1 trial will only be looking to see if the vaccine is safe, not even to prove it works, but the concept has been tested before.

Provenge, the newest drug for treating prostate cancer, also harnesses a patient's own cells, but it extends life for only four months, a limited time.

The Roswell DC vaccine is working around that. With the addition of low doses of a cancer medication called Rapamycin, the armed immune system Dendritic cells develop memory and keep on killing, therefore, in theory, not allowing the cancer to come back.

"So that with the addition of Rapamycin, they have memory. They are able to remember that cancer cells are bad. They need to be destroyed. They need to be killed ," Dr. Odunski said.

Patients with cancer need to have the ny-eso-1 protein so that the vaccine can be made. Oncologists can test for that. The Roswell project also involves state of the art facilities to make the vaccine right that.


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