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Vaccine shows therapeutic promise against advanced melanoma
Date:6/1/2009

ORLANDO - A vaccine for one of the most lethal cancers, advanced melanoma, has shown improved response rates and progression-free survival for patients when combined with the immunotherapy drug, Interleukin-2, according to researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings, presented today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), 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. Patrick Hwu, M.D., professor and chair of M. D. Anderson's Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology, presented the findings on ASCO's press program.

According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma has one of the fastest growing incidence rates of all cancers. In 2009, more than 68,720 people in the U.S. are projected to be diagnosed with melanoma and 8,650 will likely die 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 our patients," said Hwu, a co-investigator on the study. "While more follow up is needed, this study serves as a proof-of-principle for vaccines' role 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., who is currently 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, known for controlling immune responses.

"This vaccine activates the body's cytotoxic T cells to recognize antige
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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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