At the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research held virtually April 10th to the 14th, Dr. Thomas Marron, MD, PhD, Assistant Director for Early Phase and Immunotherapy Trials at The Tisch Cancer Institute and Assistant professor of Medicine said “The vaccine also contains an adjuvant that primes the immune system…” This is unusual since the majority of people who are treated with immunotherapy do not respond well to this type of treatment.
Researchers’ goal during this phase 1 trial was to see if this approach was safe and effective, and they believe they met this goal. 13 people participated in this trial. 10 people had solid tumors and 3 had multiple myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells. After an average of approximately two and half years, four of the thirteen patients showed no signs of any kind of cancer; four patients were still receiving therapy, four had died and one opted not to participate any further.
The protocol called for administering 10 doses of the personalized vaccine over a timeline of six months.
To make a personalized vaccine, each patient needs to have their tumors and germline (cells that pass on their genetic material) DNA sequenced and the tumor RNA. From doing this specific DNA sequencing, the researchers were able to specifically target the cancer tumors. The particular approach of developing a personal vaccine allows for the vaccine to learn to adapt to other forms of genetic tumors and target them.
Nina Bhardwaj, MD PhD, and one of the researchers said “Most experimental personalized cancer vaccines are administered in the metastatic setting, but prior reach indicates that immunotherapies tend to be more effective in patients who have less cancer spread. We have therefore developed a neoantigen vaccine that is administered after standard-of-care adjuvant therapy, such as surgery in solid tumors and bone marrow transplant in multiple myeloma, when patients have minimal-typically microscopic-residual disease. Our results demonstrate OpenVax pipeline is a viable approach to generate a safe, personalized cancer vaccine, which could potentially be used to treat a range of tumor types.”