Vaccine for Sarcoma Reprograms Immune System


SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Synovial sarcoma is a rare, aggressive cancer of the soft tissue that can be quite resistant to treatment. Doctors at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have created a vaccine that’s shown some impressive results in a phase one trial, with few minor side effects. Now they’re working on making the vaccine even more effective.

For a decade, Tiffany O’Keefe wasn’t sure she’d be playing games with her kids at age 45. In 2004, she was diagnosed with sarcoma in her lung. Despite chemo, surgery, and radiation, it came back four times. That’s when a doctor proposed a clinical trial for LV305.

“I hadn’t done much research. I was nervous, but I think I was ready for anything other than chemotherapy,” O’Keefe told Ivanhoe.

Tiffany got three sets of injections in 2014. Her tumors started to shrink. Then, a year later …

“That’s when things really started to shrink, and now she’s had over 80 percent of her tumor shrink away, and she’s over three years out from her vaccination,” Seth Pollack, MD, Assistant Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center explained. (Read Full Interview)

LV305 reprograms the immune system to fight cancer cells. Doctor Pollack says patients in the phase one trial seem to be living longer with few side effects. So, researchers added a booster in a follow up study.

Doctor Pollack continued, “Not only would the reprogrammed immune system fight the cancer, but an extra dose of the cancer target would be injected to the patients to get a little more oomph to the vaccine.”

Doctor Pollack says those patients are also living longer. The vaccine’s success is making Tiffany rethink her life.

O’Keefe said, “Yeah, I actually have to think now, I might have to think about the future, what I’m going to do in retirement.”

And, she’s excited to get the chance to finish raising her kids.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center doctors and therapy developer, Immune Design, are pushing forward with more improvements for the vaccine. Immune Design just announced a randomized phase three trial that will include the vaccine, the booster, and a drug that blocks an immune checkpoint. The CMB305 trial should open next year.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4345

BACKGROUND: A sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops from certain tissues such as bone or muscle. Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are the main kinds. Soft tissue can develop from tissues like muscle, nerves, fat, and blood vessels. They can be found in any area of the body, but most develop in the arms or legs. Sarcomas are not common tumors, most are the type of tumors called carcinomas. Not all sarcomas are cancerous; the term sarcoma means the tumor is malignant. There are more than fifty different types of sarcoma, including but not limited to; adult fibrosarcoma, clear cell sarcoma, epithelioid sarcoma, Kaposi sarcoma, leiomyosarcoma, malignant mesenchymoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma.


SYNOVIAL SARCOMA: It is one of the rarer forms, and can occur at any age but is more common among teenagers and young adults. Despite the name it is not related to the synovial tissues that are part of the joints. It is unknown whether this mutation occurs randomly or following a specific chain of events. The primary treatment for synovial sarcoma is surgery to remove the entire tumor with clear margins whenever possible. This happens when healthy tissue surrounding the tumor is removed along with the tumor, making it more likely that all cancer cells have been removed from the area. Depending on the location and size of the mass, it may be difficult for a surgeon to remove adequate margins while preserving function. Radiotherapy or chemotherapy may also be recommended, especially in the advanced or metastatic stages. This is on a case by case basis, and is decided by the oncologist and the patient. Prognosis is influenced by the quality of surgery that patients receive and characteristics of the disease among other things.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Results of an early-stage clinical trial of a cancer vaccine that uses an engineered virus to teach the patients’ immune systems to recognize and kill tumor cells have shown exciting results that the vaccine works. It generates an immune system response and stabilizes tumors, paving the way for improvements for the vaccine. Patients in the phase one trial seemed to live longer with few side effects, so researchers added a booster in an additional arm of the trial. These patients are also living longer. They are now pushing forward with more improvements for the vaccine, and announced a randomized phase three trial that will include the vaccine, the booster, and a drug that blocks an immune checkpoint. The CMB305 trial should open next year.



Molly McElroy

Julie Rathbun

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Seth M. Pollack, MD

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