In a small study mounted at the University of Pennsylvania, a novel combination approach using a personalized therapeutic vaccine made from dendritic cells primed with a patient's tumor cells was successfully used to fight advanced ovarian cancer.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, the university's Lana Kandalaft found herself at center stage of the event, explaining how 20 of the 31 women responded with either stable disease or a partial response after being given the vaccine alone, according to a report from MedPage Today. The remaining 11 of those cancer patients went on to the second step, adoptive T cell therapy, in which 73% demonstrated a clear clinical benefit--such as tumor shrinkage.
In particular, Kandalaft singled out a woman whose disease had remained stable for 45 months, which is unusual when you consider that most advanced ovarian cancer patients are dead within 5 years.
"We are preventing progression of already existing disease," Kandalaft told Bloomberg. "Most of the patients are now on maintenance vaccine, just to keep the system going. We haven't seen them recur. We are seeing how long they can go."
Dr. Louis Weiner of Georgetown University, who was not part of the study, told reporters that the promising combination therapy promised a more effective way to treat aggressive cancers. That said, a small study like this can only offer a glimpse of a therapy's efficacy and safety, demanding further study before we can understand fully what it has to offer.