HOUSTON ― A vaccine for one of the most lethal cancers, advanced melanoma, has improved response rate and progression-free survival for patients when combined with the immunotherapy drug Interleukin-2, according to research led by scientists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Indiana University Health Goshen Center for Cancer Care.
The findings, published in the June 2 New England Journal of Medicine, mark the first vaccine study in the disease and one of the first in cancer overall to show clinical benefit in a randomized Phase III clinical trial. It's also the first cancer vaccine to show an improved response rate in patients.
The research was first presented on the plenary session of 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology.
According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma has one of the fastest growing incidence rates of all cancers. In 2010, more than 68,130 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with melanoma and 8,700 died from the disease. The five-year survival rates for those with regional and metastatic disease are 65 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
"Obviously, this is a disease, in its advanced setting, in need of better therapies for patients," said Patrick Hwu, M.D., professor and Chair of the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology and the study's senior author. "This study serves as a proof-of-principle for the role of vaccines in melanoma and in cancer therapy overall. If we can use the body's own defense system to attack tumor cells, we provide a mechanism for ridding the body of cancer without destroying healthy tissue."
During their tenure at the National Cancer Institute NCI), Hwu and Douglas Schwartzentruber, M.D., the medical director of the Goshen Center for Cancer Care, were involved in the vaccine's development and early basic and clinical studies. The peptide vaccine, known as gp100:209-217 (200M), works by stimulating patients' T cells, kno
|Contact: Laura Sussman|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center