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Immune-Based Lymphoma Treatment Shows Promise
Date:5/31/2009

nths to develop. Each patient received five injections over six months.

"The vaccine targets the 'idiotype' protein on the cell surface [of cancerous B cells in follicular lymphoma]. The protein is unique to cancer cells and varies from patient to patient," Schuster explained. "The idiotype vaccine with the immune stimulatory molecules improved disease-free survival following chemo."

However, in contrast to other phase III trials involving cancer vaccines, "remission before receiving the vaccine might be a prerequisite for deriving benefit, or at least statistically significant benefit," he added.

Another phase III trial for another cancer vaccine -- this one for advanced melanoma -- also produced promising results, marking the first evidence of clinical benefit of vaccination in patients with melanoma.

This time, researchers added a new cancer vaccine, called gp100:209-217(210M) peptide, to conventional therapy.

"In the past, what we've tried to do in the cancer immunology field is to attack tumors one agent at a time. Now we're starting to combine agents together for effective therapy," said study senior author Dr. Patrick Hwu, melanoma chief at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "Our approach here was to combine the vaccine with interleukin 2 to get immune cells to attack the tumor. All immune approaches try to get killer T-cells to attack the tumor. The vaccine allows the 'soldiers' to go through boot camp, [it] initiates the training of soldiers. The soldiers then multiply into a large army that can then attack tumors to kill them."

Patients receiving the vaccine had longer overall survival -- 17.6 months vs. 12.8 months for controls -- but that was not considered statistically significant. They also experienced a progression-free survival of 2.9 months vs. 1.6 months for those who didn't get the vaccine. Better still, 22 percent saw their tumors shrink, as compared with
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