Vaccine for metastatic breast, ovarian cancer shows promise

November 08, 2011

PHILADELPHIA -- Treatment with a recombinant poxviral vaccine showed a positive response in both metastatic breast cancer and ovarian cancer, according to a trial published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"With this vaccine, we can clearly generate immune responses that lead to clinical responses in some patients," said lead researcher James Gulley, M.D., Ph.D., director and deputy chief of the clinical trials group at the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at the National Cancer Institute.

Gulley and colleagues enrolled 26 patients and assigned them to monthly vaccinations with the PANVAC vaccine, which contains transgenes for MUC-1, CEA and three T cell costimulatory molecules.

These patients were already heavily pretreated, with 21 of them receiving at least three prior chemotherapy regimens.

Among the 12 patients with breast cancer, median time to progression was 2.5 months and median overall survival was 13.7 months. Four patients had stable disease.

For the 14 patients with ovarian cancer, median time to progression was two months and median overall survival was 15 months.

Following treatment, mild injection-site reactions were the most common side effect.

According to Gulley, interest in cancer vaccines is increasing and more study is needed to determine which vaccines will benefit which patients. "The sustained benefit seen in some patients in this study underscores the potential for therapeutic vaccines to impact clinical outcomes without toxicity," he said. "However, more studies in the appropriate patient populations are required to adequately assess efficacy."

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute.
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards to young investigators, and it also funds cutting-edge research projects conducted by senior researchers. The AACR has numerous fruitful collaborations with organizations and foundations in the U.S. and abroad, and functions as the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable initiative that supports groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated time frame. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care, and Educational Workshops are held for the training of young cancer investigators. The AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Discovery; Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Prevention Research. In 2010, AACR journals received 20 percent of the total number of citations given to oncology journals. The AACR also publishes Cancer Today, a magazine for cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers, which provides practical knowledge and new hope for cancer survivors. A major goal of the AACR is to educate the general public and policymakers about the value of cancer research in improving public health, the vital importance of increases in sustained funding for cancer research and biomedical science, and the need for national policies that foster innovation and the acceleration of progress against the 200 diseases we call cancer.

American Association for Cancer Research

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