The future of cancer treatment may involve personalized vaccines designed to control or even prevent recurrence-at least if the new research published on Thursday continues, this vaccine will do. In a small clinical trial, high-risk melanoma patients who received this vaccine were able to develop long-term, Scientists say they have a lasting immune response to cancer. They survived for four years after the initial treatment, and most of them are active and disease-free.
For decades, cancer vaccines have been a goal that scientists have been striving for. There are two vaccines that can prevent viral diseases and are known to increase the risk of certain cancers (HPV and hepatitis B). However, due to the nature of vaccines, developing a broadly effective vaccine that can directly prevent cancer is a more difficult task. cancer. First of all, cancer cells are variant forms of cells found in our body, so our immune system cannot easily recognize them as enemies like viruses. Moreover, since every cancer is for everyone, it is not so simple to create a vaccine that is effective for everyone.
However, in recent years, progress has been made in developing cancer vaccines at a more personalized level. Researchers have discovered that the proteins carried by tumors are not present in normal cells on their cell surfaces and can make them look different from our immune system.These proteins are called Neoantigen. Scientists speculate that by creating vaccines that train the immune system to better recognize these new antigens, we can provide our bodies with better opportunities to fight familiar cancers.
Scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts and elsewhere have been working on a vaccine (called NeoVax) for skin cancers, melanoma and glioblastoma, which is the most common form of brain cancer and is difficult treatment.Although their work has display Because the vaccine is well tolerated and seems to produce an immune response in the patient, so far, only short-term results are available.Their new paperThe paper published in “Natural Medicine” shows that their vaccine can also work in the long term.
These neoantigens are the result of mutations found in specific tumors, which are produced at the individual level. Therefore, our vaccine must be tailored to the patient’s cancer. “Study author Patrick Ott said over the phone. “But what’s new is that by using genomics and sequencing, we can identify these mutations faster and more cost-effectively than before. “
They gave NeoVax to eight patients at high risk of recurrence of advanced melanoma that are thought to be fatal in the future. Then they tracked their health for the next four years and regularly collected blood samples to study the body’s immune response to cancer (especially tumor-specific T cells).
Vaccination is given to the patient about 18 weeks after the tumor is surgically removed. Ott and his team discovered that volunteers continued to carry their vaccines to train the immune system to remember new antigen-specific T cells. In some people, they have also seen that T cells are recognizing other neoantigens specific to their tumors. This shows that their immune systems are adapting to any remaining tumor cells in the body by making more weapons against them. Nearly four years later, all eight patients are still alive, and six of them did not appear to be sick at the last examination.
At present, from a person’s diagnosis, it takes up to three months for a scientist like Ott to make a personalized vaccine. But it is possible that after a simple visit by a doctor, one day it is possible to produce these vaccines in a shorter time. Although they may not be the “universal” cancer vaccines we all hope, Otter did not see any reason why these vaccines could not be prepared to prevent any type of cancer recurrence.
The vaccine may be combined with other treatments.Two cancer patients in the study spread to other places Immune checkpoint inhibitorDrugs that can make the immune system better target tumor cells. In these patients, the team found evidence that tumor-specific T cells have found a way to metastasize tumors.
In the future, Ott and his team hope to improve their vaccine technology to produce a more effective immune response, combined with drugs such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, to treat advanced cancer cases.They are still using Other cancers, While continuing to monitor its existing patients.