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Therapeutic melanoma vaccine improves response rate, progression-free survival
Date:6/2/2011

wn for controlling immune responses.

"This vaccine activates the body's cytotoxic T cells to recognize antigens on the surface of the tumor. The T cells then secrete enzymes that poke holes in the tumor cell's membrane, causing it to disintegrate," explained Schwartzentruber, the study's principal investigator and corresponding author.

After an NCI-led Phase II study combining the vaccine with Interleukin-2 (IL-2) showed response rates of 42 percent in metastatic melanoma patients, a Phase III randomized trial with the two agents opened more than a decade ago.

Conducting a large, multi-institutional trial with IL-2, however, had its own set of unique challenges, explained Hwu, as not all cancer centers and community hospitals are capable of administering the immunotherapy. A highly specialized therapy associated with such significant side effects as low blood pressure and capillary leak syndrome, which poses risks to the heart and lung, IL-2 is often delivered in intensive care units. MD Anderson is one of the few centers with a dedicated in-patient unit exclusively designed for the drug's delivery; before, the institution was offering the therapy in its ICU.

In the Phase III trial, 185 patients at 21 centers across the country were enrolled in the study. All had advanced metastatic melanoma and were stratified for cutaneous metastasis, a known indicator of response to IL-2. Patients were randomized to receive either high dose IL-2, or IL-2 and vaccine. In the IL-2 arm, 94 patients were enrolled and 93 were treated and evaluated for response; 91 were enrolled and 86 treated and 85 were evaluated for response in the IL-2 and vaccine arm. The primary endpoint of the study was clinical response; the secondary endpoints were toxic effects and progression-free survival.

The study found that those who received the vaccine had a response rate of 16 percent, and progression-free survival of 2.2 months, compared to 6 percent and
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Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
832-264-8893
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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