A personalized cancer vaccine made from individual patients’ own DNA has produced “really promising” preliminary results.
Ground breaking jab, made using technology Covid ExtremePatients are being given after completing conventional treatment for head and neck cancer. Patients have a higher chance of the cancer coming back.
Preliminary data from a clinical trial conducted at The Clutterbridge Cancer Center show that none of the first eight patients who responded were re-infected a few months later.
But cancer has returned in two of the eight patients who have not been vaccinated.
The numbers are too small to draw strong statistical conclusions.
But Professor Christian Ottenmeyer, a consulting medical oncologist and director of clinical research at the center, told Sky News he was “cautiously optimistic”.
“I’m really optimistic, yes,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about it. All the information is pointing in the right direction.”
A small clinical trial of the vaccine on patients with ovarian cancer in France and the United States is also showing promising results.
How does the vaccine work?
Jab, codenamed TG4050, was created by a French company called Transgene using the same technology that was produced. AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine.
DNA is cut from a patient’s tumor and pasted into an innocent virus.
When a genetically modified virus enters the body, it trains the immune system to be alert for cancer cells, hopefully destroying them at an early stage before they become a lump.
Read more: The story of the Oxford-AstraZeneca covid vaccine
“The immune system can see things we don’t see on scans,” said Professor Ottensmeyer.
“It’s a lot smarter than humans.
“If we can train the immune system to pick cells that would otherwise lead to regeneration at a time when we don’t even see them, our patients are much more likely to survive long-term.”
Physicians are optimistic about JAB because it has been created with great care for a person’s cancer.
Mutations in tumor cell DNA vary among patients. By creating a unique vaccine for each patient, it should be more effective in targeting malignant cells.
Ten doses less, 10 more to go
Sky News allowed Brian Wright to film the 10th dose of his vaccine at Clutterbridge. From now on he has 10 more doses by January.
About a year ago Mr Wright underwent a 16-hour operation to remove a tumor from the floor of his mouth and his lower jaw was replaced with bone from his leg. She then had several weeks of painful radiotherapy.
He said there were no side effects to the vaccine treatment, but he had to be persuaded to take part first.
“If you have throat cancer,” he said, “and they say they’re going to inject you with that cancer, it just sounds like … ‘Oh no you’re not’.
“But they explained that it would not give you cancer back, it would make your body resistant to that cancer.”
Thirty patients are being tested for head and neck cancer. Half will be vaccinated as soon as conventional treatment is completed, the other half will only receive it if they are re-infected.
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The Covid epidemic has accelerated the development of vaccine technology that was once considered highly experimental.
A team of Oxford scientists who created the AstraZeneca Jab are using the same “viral vector” technique to detect prostate cancer.
And mRNA techniques based on Pfizer and Modern Covid vaccines have recently been used with promising results against pancreatic cancer.
Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Oxford team at the Jenner Institute, said: “The epidemic has helped develop and accelerate the development of a range of new vaccines.
“We’ve learned about their safety among billions of people where it was thousands before, and it’s useful safety information.
“And that means a lot more will be invested in areas like cancer, where we need better therapy.”