A “personalized” ovarian cancer vaccine is showing promise among patients with advanced cases and may even dramatically increase their overall survival rate, a clinical trial has found.
According to the research, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the vaccine has nearly doubled the number of women surviving ovarian cancer in two years by programming their immune cells to identify their own tumor, The Telegraph reported.
The trial, which involved 25 women, showed that 78 percent of women given the experimental vaccine along with immunotherapy drugs had survived for two years, which is a drastic difference to the 44 percent who received the drugs alone.
These findings are significant because, as Dr Lana Kandalaft of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine explained, ovarian cancer is usually only diagnosed in its advanced stages and while a combination of chemotherapy and surgery is the standard treatment, about 85 per cent of patients relapse.
By that point they are often left with few other treatment options, but it has been found that about 55 percent of ovarian cancer patients have a spontaneous immune response, which betters their survival rates.
Kandalaft pointed out that a vaccine may be able to trigger and boost the immune system and increase the survival rates of patients, CNN reported.
The trial tested that hypothesis by providing patients diagnosed with advanced recurrent ovarian cancer with “personalized” vaccines that used the patient’s tumor and dendritic cells from their blood.
Researchers were stunned to find that the patients who received the vaccine “mounted an immune response against their own tumors,” Kandalaft said per CNN.
She explained that the vaccine triggered an increase in the number of T cells specific to the tumor, which were able to ultimately kill the tumors.
Based on these findings, Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said the new study “clearly justifies a larger clinical trial.”
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