A study in Nature Medicine reveals that an experimental cancer vaccine has shown promise in a small clinical trial. Researchers at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York tested this vaccine in 11 patients with lymphoma. The results were found to be successful enough that another clinical trial was conducted last month on lymphoma patients as well as those who had breast and head-and-neck cancer.
The researchers mentioned that some patients in the first trial went into full remission for months and even years. Lead author Dr. Joshua Brody said that this treatment “has broad implications for multiple types of cancer,” adding that “This method could also increase the success of other immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockade.”
It’s being referred to as a vaccine because it causes the patient’s immune system to fight the disease. However, it’s not a preventive vaccine like the flu shot, for example. The treatment is simply teaching the body to recognize the tumors and fight them in this case.
The treatment was created within the tumor itself. One tumor was injected with a stimulant to recruit immune cells, treated it with a low dose of radiation and then injected it with a stimulant to activate immune cells. The activated cells travel throughout the body and kill tumors wherever they find them.
Even though this looks to be promising, this effect was observed in only three people. More testing has to be done in larger trials before the vaccine can be sent to the FDA for review.