"It's the ultimate in personalized therapy," Kwak said. "Even if two patients have the same type of lymphoma, their tumors will still have different proteins."
According to the National Cancer Institute, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in the United States. More than 74,000 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2010. Follicular lymphoma accounts for 22 percent of non-Hodgkin lymphomas worldwide.
"Survival of follicular lymphoma patients has improved with newer types of chemotherapy, but advanced-stage disease still is considered incurable," Kwak said. "Although we usually can get the disease into remission, it comes back in almost all patients without further treatment."
Some patients appear to have even stronger response
The 234 patients in this trial first were treated with a chemotherapy combination known as PACE. Of these patients, 117 went into complete remission or had a complete response for at least six months, and they received either the vaccine or a placebo. During a median follow-up period of 55.6 months, median time to relapse for the 76 vaccinated patients was 44.2 months, compared with 30.6 months for the 41 who received placebo.
However, an unplanned subgroup analysis showed that patients with a certain biological marker had an even more profound response, extending disease-free survival time from 28.7 months to 52.9 months. While those results need to be confirmed in randomized studies, they suggest the potential for further targeting the vaccine.
"This huge difference points the way toward specific patients who may be likely to respond even more dramatically to the vaccine," Kwak said. "It also helps focus priorities moving forward. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might expedite commercial deve
|Contact: Scott Merville|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center