Ovarian cancer is tagged “silent killer” because often it goes unnoticed until it is diagnosed at a late stage. 85% of patients treated with surgery followed by chemotherapy, experience relapse and ultimately develop resistance to the chemo. At this point, patients run out of treatment option.
Research published by journal Science Translational Medicine revealed that “Immunotherapy” vaccine has a positive effect against ovarian cancer. Patients who received the vaccine, in contrast to those who did not, showed a “significantly higher” overall two-year survival rate.
Scientists have very high hopes on the fact that a subset of patients, who show mount a response against their cancer, primarily, have a better survival rate than those whose immune systems don’t react in the same way. Dr. Lana Kandalaft, the senior author of the study, stated those vaccines might be able to trigger and boost the immune system and enhance the survival rates of these patients.
In order to test her hypothesis, Dr. Kandalaft and her colleagues created “personalized” vaccines for 25 patients who were diagnosed with advanced, recurrent ovarian cancer. (According to the American Cancer Society, women who have a recurrent advanced epithelial ovarian cancer, have an average 5-year survival rate of approximately 17%)
To create those unique vaccines, the scientists used the patients’ tumor cells (stored and preserved before surgery) along with their dendritic cells obtained from her blood. Dendritic cells serve to identify alien invaders lingering in the dim interfaces separating our bodies and the environment: the lining of our airways, for example, and the surface of our intestines. These cells destroy the invaders upon recognition.
To validate the study, a number of patients underwent treatment with personalized vaccine solely, and the other half received the vaccination in combination with either one or two chemo drugs.
16 vaccines shots were administered to each of the 25 patients who participated in the study, and assuringly, none of them experienced any drastic side effects.
Furthermore, the patients who received the combination of vaccine and two chemo drugs had the maximum two-year survival rate. Moreover, 78% of combined treatment group (vaccination + Chemo) survived 2 years, whereas, only 44% of the chemo hand survived. One of the patients on vaccine-only remained in remission for five years after the study; before the study, her cancer had recurred twice after chemotherapy.
immunotherapy can server as the next generation of treatment for ovarian cancer.
Dr. Otis Brawley said the new study amounts to good science that certainly justifies a larger clinical trial. Dr. Brawley is convinced that immunotherapy can server as the next generation of treatment for ovarian cancer as well as some other cancers. She further explained, “This methodology has been looked at in prostate cancer and may be useful in other diseases.”
The results of the current study, designed to address safety and funded by National Institutes of Health, were “promising, albeit preliminary,” she stated. Therefore, Kandalaft and her colleagues will be pursuing more extensive studies of these vaccines.
This research has created a positive and promising headway in combatting and defeating Ovarian cancer. As a result of this giant stride, patients and victims have better chances of survival and will be able to overcome ovarian cancer when the research is perfected.
Original Report: “Ovarian Cancer Vaccines shows Promising Results in Human Study.”, by Susan Scutti, CNN
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