Since I pointed out an article on progress in cancer vaccine research over at the Longevity Meme today, I thought I'd follow up with a couple more here. Broadly, a cancer vaccine is a therapy that convinces the immune system to attack cancerous cells. A wide range of methods to accomplish this goal exist - and scientists have been very inventive in designing new ones over the past couple of years - but it usually boils down to making the immune system recognize one of the many biochemical cues only expressed by cancerous cells.
The study, which was conducted in six clinical centers in Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, investigated the immunological efficacy of the therapeutic vaccine (secondary endpoint), in addition to its safety and compatibility (primary endpoint). Tests on 28 patients clearly showed that IMA901 was not only safe and well-tolerated, but in over 70 percent of the patients treated additionally evoked immune responses against tumor-associated antigens included in IMA901. Moreover, the formation of immune responses against multiple (>2) targets correlated significantly with a stabilization of the disease and a decline in the tumor burden identified prior to commencement of the treatment (p<0.05).
immatics Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jurgen Frisch comments: "The results we achieved far surpassed immatics' expectations and are prompting us to lay the cornerstone for evidencing clinical efficacy by commencing a Phase 2 trial as early as possible."
Immutep announce that its lead product, ImmuFact IMP321 - a potent natural human T cell immunostimulatory factor designed to amplify the T cell immune response - has entered a Phase I clinical trial in disease-free melanoma.
The primary objectives of the study are i) to determine whether immunization with 8 HLA-A2 peptides in PBS, or emulsified in Montanide, results in detectable cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses in disease-free (absence of detectable melanoma lesions after surgery) melanoma patients when IMP321 is added as an immunological adjuvant and, ii) to establish safety of the addition of IMP321 to these two peptide formulations. Secondary objectives are to analyse the kinetics of any detectable CTL response and disease-free survival.
A great deal of work is going into developing a working technology base for cancer vaccines: when one methodology can be shown to work effectively and reliably for one cancer, it can be expanded to many others.
As I've noted in the past, extending healthy longevity requires widely available, highly effective, low-cost therapies for cancer. Like neurodegenerative conditions, cancer is a highly varied set of failure conditions in our most central biochemistry that becomes more likely with each passing year of life. Solutions will be needed as researchers begin to add the possibility of additional decades of healthy life by other means: those extra decades won't mean much if the ever-increasing risk of cancer catches you first.