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Vaccine first to show improved survival rates for metastatic melanoma
Date:6/3/2011

(CHICAGO) For patients with advanced melanoma, which is the most lethal type of skin cancer, the results of a large clinical trial show that a vaccine combined with the immune-boosting drug Interleukin-2 can improve response rate and progression-free survival.

The findings of the study were published in the June 2 issue of New England Journal of Medicine. This marks the first vaccine study in the disease and one of the first in all cancers to show clinical benefit in a randomized Phase III clinical trial.

"This is the first time that a vaccine has shown benefit in the treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma. The trial is an early example of success with a cancer vaccine," said Dr. Howard Kaufman, director for the Rush University Cancer Center and study co-investigator.

"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," said Kaufman, who is also an associate dean of Rush Medical College and a professor in the departments of general surgery, internal medicine and immunology and microbiology at Rush University.

Therapeutic cancer vaccines, unlike typical vaccines that prevent infections, are meant to jump-start the immune system to help it battle existing tumors.

Rush was one of 21 centers in the U.S. participating in the trial. Researchers randomly assigned 185 patients with metastatic melanoma to either a combination of the peptide vaccine, which is a small portion of protein that is present on the surface of the melanoma cancer cells, and Interleukin-2, a drug that activates the immune system, or a high dose of Interleukin-2 alone.

The peptide vaccine, known as gp100:209-217 (200M), works by stimulating the patient's T-cells, which is known for controlling immune responses. The injection primes the immune system to recognize the protein and activates the body's cytotoxic T-cells to
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Contact: Deb Song
deb_song@rush.edu
312-942-0588
Rush University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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