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A novel vaccine proves a shot in the arm for colorectal cancer patients

7 with a powder to help absorb the vaccine, 105AD7 along with BCG (a bacteria used to stimulate the immune system in cancer patients) during the first immunization and the powder in subsequent vaccinations, or no treatment.

The patients, who had varying degrees of disease, averaged age 66. Twenty-eight patients had colon cancer while in 39 patients the primary tumor was located in the rectum.

Patients were immunized before surgery on the day they were recruited for the study, and again two weeks later if surgery had not yet been performed. The vaccines were continued three, six and 12 weeks after surgery, and then at three monthly intervals up to a maximum of 24 months after surgery. Blood samples were collected from the patients during recruitment, at surgery, and at the time of the three-, six- and 12-week post-operative immunizations. Additional blood samples were acquired one month after each subsequent immunization.

Laboratory tests of the blood samples indicated that a T-cell response against the vaccine was recorded in the majority of patients. The responses tended to have two peaks: one following the start of the immunization schedule and another several months later, after additional immunizations. About 70 percent of patients produced both TNF-alpha and GM-CSF – a protein that stimulates white blood cell production – in response to both the vaccine and to CD55.

"The immune responses to both the vaccine and CD55 were measurable, adding support to the use of CD55 as a target in cancer treatment," Durrant said.

Nineteen of the patients died during the follow-up period. Durrant and colleagues noted that the trial was not designed to study the effect of the vaccines on survival.



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