Best Life: Scientists developing personalized vaccine to keep cancer from recurring

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 7:52 AM CDT
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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 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, Ph.D., The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai.

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.

Marron says the goal of the 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 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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