New Vaccine Keeps Cancer Cells Under Control Four Years After Treatment

The research followed eight melanoma patients who were considered at high risk of recurrence.

We all know the dreaded C-word: cancer. The mere mention of it sends chills down our spines, and although there are constantly new treatments being discovered, the disease still seems to run rampant.


Now, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have come up with a new vaccine — called the NeoVax treatment — that may just prove fruitful at fighting cancer. According to a new press release, the novel vaccine has been successful at thwarting tumor growth in melanoma patients.

The vaccine's findings were published online in the journal Nature Medicine and the publication showcases its effectiveness four years after being administered.

“These findings demonstrate that a personal neoantigen vaccine can stimulate a durable immune response in patients with melanoma,” said in the release study co-leader Catherine J. Wu, MD, of Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and the Broad Institute. “We found evidence that the initial, targeted immune response has broadened over the years to provide patients with continued protection from the disease.”

The research followed eight patients who had undergone surgery for advanced melanoma but were considered at high risk of recurrence. Four years after being treated with NeoVax the patients were all alive and well with six showing no signs of active disease.

“We found evidence of everything we look for in a strong, sustained immune response,” said Patrick A. Ott, MD, Ph.D., of Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and the Broad Institute, who co-led the study with Wu. 

The new is quite exciting, but more studies would need to be undertaken with larger groups of patients to really establish the vaccine's efficiency. For now, however, Ott added that the results of the research are a "strong indication" that personal vaccines can help control metastatic tumors.

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