Doctors are studying the use of personalized cancer vaccines

TORONTO — A clinical trial on personalized cancer vaccines to prevent recurrence has shown potential benefits and appears to have no safety concerns, according to researchers.

Phase one clinical trials for the personalized inoculations completed at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, showed that they may hold potential benefits for people with cancers that have a high chance of recurring.

To personalize the vaccines, the doctors sequenced the DNA from the patients’ tumor, germline and the RNA of the tumors. The sequences were fed into Mount Sinai’s computation system called OpenVax, which helps researchers incorporate specific immune responses into the vaccines.

Patients were given 10 personalized vaccines over the course of six months after having undergone standard cancer treatment such as surgery for tumor removal or bone marrow transplant. Patients were also given an immunostimulant with the vaccines.

“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,” study author Dr. Nina Bhardwaj, director of the Immunotherapy Program and the Ward-Coleman chair in Cancer Research at The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai said in a press release.

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

Thirteen patients with a high chance of tumor recurrence participated in the phase one trial. After 880 days, four had no detectable cancer, four were receiving other cancer treatments, four had died and one person dropped out of the trial.

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