New cancer vax shows promise among late-stage victims

With support from the National Cancer Institute and Alphavax, researchers say that a new oncology vaccine has triggered a significant immune response among a group of patients suffering from a range of cancers.

The group, which was led by Duke University's Dr. Michael Morse, used an alphavirus-which are known to target dendritic cells-to precisely deliver a gene for the carcinoembryonic antigen, a common biomarker in cancer. And they tested it on 28 patients with late-stage lung, colon, breast, appendix or pancreatic cancer. The investigators recorded a response in five of the patients, including two who saw their cancer stabilize.

"A vaccine has to work by activating immune cells that are capable of killing tumors and those immune cells have to survive long enough [to] get to the tumor and destroy it," says Dr. Morse.

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