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Novel Lung Cancer Vaccine Trial Launched at Moores UCSD Cancer Center
Date:10/7/2008

Oncologists at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla are hoping to stave off the relentless march of advanced lung cancer by treating patients with a novel kind of cancer vaccine. While many vaccines attempt to pump up the immune system to fight off a cancer, the new vaccine, Lucanix, is genetically engineered to also trick the cancer into turning off its immune system-suppressing activities.

The first patients have begun enrolling in a new clinical trial at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center testing the effectiveness of the vaccine. The trial will involve 700 patients at some 90 centers worldwide.

Current treatments for advanced lung cancer have limited effectiveness and new therapies are needed, said Lyudmila Bazhenova, M.D., director of the Lung Cancer Unit at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center and assistant clinical professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

"The future treatments for advanced lung cancer may involve combinations of chemotherapy and targeted agents, and possibly even biologicals such as this," she said.

Roughly 430 patients die of lung cancer every day in the United States, according to Bazhenova, making it the nation's number one killer, despite being the second most common cancer. "While breast cancer mortality has declined about 15 percent, there hasn't been much improvement in mortality in lung cancer in the past several decades," she said. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 215,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed, and 162,000 individuals will die from the disease this year in the United States.

The vaccine, developed by NovaRx, a biopharmaceutical company based in San Diego, consists of lung cancer cells that have been genetically altered to shut down the cancer's ability to depress the immune system. In addition, the cells are also modified to enable the immune system to see them better.

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Contact: Steve Benowitz
sbenowitz@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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