Personalized Vaccine Keeps Cancer from Coming Back


NEW YORK, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Immunotherapies have been successful in some patients with cancer by taking the brakes off the immune system so the body can attack the cancer. Now, scientists at Mount Sinai in New York are developing a personalized cancer vaccine that can send cancer fighters directly to areas in the body where cancer might recur. As Ivanhoe reports, an early trial of the vaccine is showing promise in patients with different cancers, like lung and bladder, that are more likely to come back.

“I love walking on Fifth Avenue and on Madison Avenue. There’s always something to see,” said Bob.

Bob is a 74-year-old retired attorney. His city strolls are less frequent right now. He’s building back his strength after chronic lung disease and lung cancer.

Bob, who didn’t want to use his last name, is also among the first patients in a small trial of a personalized cancer vaccine.

“The cancer vaccines try to teach your immune system how to recognize your cancer and eliminate it,” explained Thomas Marron, MD, PhD, The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai.

(Read Full Interview)

To personalize the vaccine, scientists drew patient’s blood to study their DNA and RNA. Then researchers used a computer program to identify cancer targets. Those targets are manufactured in the lab and become part of the vaccine. The vaccines were given as injections … ten treatments over a six-month period.

“The infusion probably took about an hour each time. So, it was more involved than a flu shot,” shared Bob.

Dr. Marron says the goal of the personalized vaccine is to stop cancer from coming back by adding it to chemo and current immunotherapies.

“Our initial data does suggest that, you know, after getting all 10 vaccines, you know, patients can be very strongly immunized against their cancer,” said Dr. Marron.

Right now, for Bob, it’s working.

“No sign of cancer. Dr. Marron has been monitoring me very carefully,” Bob said.

Mount Sinai enrolled 13 patients in the phase one trial, which is conducted to test safety. More than two years after the vaccine regimen, four patients are cancer-free, four are receiving additional treatment, four have died, and one decided to stop the trial. Five other trials testing the vaccine are now in the works for glioblastoma, prostate cancer and blood cancers.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4924

BACKGROUND OF CANCER: Cancer affects one in three people in the United States. A person is made up of trillions of cells that over their lifetime normally grow and divide as needed. When cells are abnormal or get old, they usually die. Cancer starts when something goes wrong in this process and a person’s cells keep making new cells and the old or abnormal ones don’t die when they should. As the cancer cells grow out of control, they can crowd out normal cells. This makes it hard for a person’s body to work the way it should.

There are two main categories of cancer. Hematologic cancers are cancers of the blood cells and include leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Solid tumor cancers are cancers of any of the other body organs or tissue, and. the most common are breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers.


DIAGNOSING CANCER: For a few cancers, studies show that screening tests can save lives by diagnosing cancer early. For other cancers, screening tests are recommended only for people with increased risk. A doctor may use physical exams, laboratory tests, imaging test, and biopsies to determine the type of cancer a person has and the stage. Once cancer is diagnosed, a doctor will work to determine the extent of a person’s cancer which will determine their treatment options and chances of a cure.

Staging tests and procedures may include imaging tests, such as bone scans or X-rays, to see if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Cancer stages are indicated by the numbers 0 through 4, which are often written as Roman numerals 0 through IV. Higher numbers indicate a more advanced cancer. For some types of cancer, cancer stage is indicated using letters or words.


NEW CANCER STUDY: Scientists with NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, otherwise known as CCR, have made important advances in determining how normal cells progress to become cancer cells. One study shows how damaged cells survive the cell cycle when it comes to the process of cells dividing and multiplying. Another study uncovered a key mechanism that fuels uncontrolled cell growth in yeast. Although the study was conducted in yeast cells, it could hold important clues for understanding how cancer and some genetic disorders occur in humans. CCR scientists have also identified a protein that may be a target for new treatments for lung squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of lung cancer.





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Thomas Marron, MD, PhD

Read the entire Q&A