An international scientific team, has created and tested an individualized vaccine that strengthens the immune system of patients to fight ovarian cancer.
The pilot clinical trial of the vaccine in 25 patients with advanced and recurrent ovarian cancer has shown that this is safe, well tolerated and has succeeded in strengthening the responses of the defensive mechanism of cancer patients, thus increasing their chances of survival. The vaccine almost doubles the number of patients who live for at least two years.
Ovarian cancer usually occurs in menopausal women and is often diagnosed with delay because of the lack of symptoms, which makes it difficult to deal with. Only half the women survive more than five years after diagnosis. Up to now, the usual treatment for advanced cases is surgery, followed by chemotherapy. However, many patients (up to 85%) relapse and then no other treatment options are available.
The new vaccine is personalized as it consists of dendritic immune cells taken from the patient’s blood and exposed to cancer cells in the laboratory. They are then introduced into the patient’s body, where the vaccine triggers a general response of the immune system, “educating” T lymphocytes to recognize and destroy cancerous tumors.
Scientists have given the vaccine in doses (about once a month for two years) either alone or in combination with two immunomodulatory drugs, bevacizumab and cyclophosphamide. Follow-up of 25 patients for more than two years.
About half of the vaccinated patients showed an enhanced response to the cancer cells and lived longer. After one year, 100% of the vaccinated patients lived, compared to 60% of those who had taken only the two anti-cancer drugs.