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Penn researchers demonstrate efficacy of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma vaccine
Date:10/18/2011

hat our immunotherapy and rescue chemotherapy appear to act synergistically to prevent a second relapse a phenomenon that has been previously recognized in human patients treated with other types of immunotherapy," she said.

Previous cell based vaccines have utilized genetically engineering dendritic cells which are part of the immune system to stimulate immune responses against cancers. Similar to using weakened viruses in traditional vaccines, scientists load these cells with tumor proteins and inject the cells back into the patient's body. Such cell-based vaccines are already being used to treat prostate cancer in humans, but engineering these cells is expensive and time consuming. Furthermore, patients must also endure long, leukapheresis sessions in which the necessary dendritic cells are harvested from their blood.

The Penn team hypothesized that another kind of immune cell, B-cells, could work just as well under the right conditions. Unlike dendritic cells, many B-cells can be grown from a small blood sample, removing the requirement for leukapheresis.

Mason's team made the vaccine by culturing B-cells from the blood taken from the dogs with NHL. These cells were then loaded with RNA that had been isolated from the patient's own tumor.

The results were impressive.

"Though vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs relapsed with clinical disease at the same time, 40 percent of vaccinated dogs that relapsed experienced long-term survival after a second round of chemotherapy; only 7 percent of unvaccinated dogs that relapsed and were treated with the same rescue chemotherapy protocol survived long term," Mason said. "Furthermore, when the vaccinated long-term survivors did eventually die, they showed no evidence of lymphoma on full necropsy."

While the molecular mechanisms responsible for these observed synergistic effects are currently unknown, Mason believes that the vaccine-primed immune system may be boosted
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Contact: Evan Lerner
elerner@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

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