Modest Success in a Cancer Vaccine Trial

German researchers trialing a generally applicable cancer vaccine technology find that it improves on chemotherapy, but remains a long way from a cure. Still, this is generally how matters proceed: first results are only first results, and much improvement lies ahead. "Researchers [have] published the results of two clinical studies using the kidney-cancer vaccine IMA901 ... It is composed of ten synthetic tumor-associated peptides (TUMAPs), which activate the body's own killer T-cells against the tumor. Unlike chemotherapy, this process targets the body's immune responses and mobilizes them to attack the cancer. The studies show that this active immunization against cancer can be successful and extend the life of a patient for longer than even the latest chemotherapy techniques - with far fewer side-effects. ... All of the medications previously used have brought about a clear improvement in reducing tumor growth in cancer of the kidneys, but they did not lead to the desired extension of the patient's life and certainly did not cure the patient. ... The study shows that in kidney-cancer patients with documented T-cell reactions against two or more tumor-associated peptides, the immune reaction and clinical progress were clearly linked. That confirms the hypothesis that cancer treatments can be further developed by broadly activating the immune system against various target structures on the surface of the tumor. ... The principle applied here - of active immunization against cancer antigens previously identified in cancer cells - can be used against practically all types of cancer. ... researchers have published similarly successful clinical studies in the case of bowel cancer [and] prostate cancer. Immatics is currently carrying out studies on treatments for glioblastoma [a common and malignant brain tumor] and further studies for treating liver cancer and ovarian carcinoma are in the pipeline."



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