Vaccine plus Chemotherapy Combo Holds Promise For Mesothelioma


Recent trials for a novel cancer vaccine, Trovax, paired with standard chemotherapy have shown impressive results.  The compound is an artificially engineered virus designed to target the human protein 5T4.  Results of the study were published in the OncoImmunology journal.

All mesothelioma tumors, including the sarcomatoid subtype which is particularly resistant to treatment, exhibit a mutated form of 5T4.  By focusing on this specific molecule, Trovax was able to produce a disease control rate of 87%, doubling the rate of a previous study done without the vaccine.  Furthermore, 17% of patients experienced tumor reduction.


Angela Casbard, senior researcher at Cardiff University and co-author of the study, noted that this was a successful proof of concept study and that she is hopeful for future clinical trials.

The vaccine has already exhibited positive results for several other forms of cancer, including renal (kidney cancer), colorectal and prostate.  Overall, the procedure is well handled and is comparable to chemotherapy in regards to side effects.

Among the 23 patients receiving at least three doses of TroVax, 22 developed a humoral or cellular immune response, including all three patients with sarcomatoid mesothelioma.  This response rate is well over the expected level of 64%.

The therapy involves an initial injection, two weeks before starting chemotherapy with pemetrexed (Alimta) and cisplatin, and then continued vaccination at regular intervals.

Median progression-free survival was 6.8 months, while the median overall survival was 10.9 months.

At the moment, investigators are looking at ways of improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy, which remains the only FDA-approved treatment for mesothelioma.  Several agents are being tested, some with real potential, but the process is hampered by having varied results from patient to patient.

In this phase II trial, TroVax with pemetrexed-cisplatin chemotherapy showed robust immune activity, acceptable safety and tolerability to warrant further investigation in a phase III setting”, concludes the study.