Soon a Vaccine to Prevent Melanoma

A personalized “cancer vaccine” may help keep a deadly form of skin cancer from growing for years, a small new study in humans suggests. Unlike vaccines that prevent infections, such as measles and influenza, cancer vaccines are a form of immunotherapy that take down cancer cells that already exist. The vaccines train immune cells, called T cells, to better recognize cancer and target it for destruction, while sparing healthy cells in the body. For example, the new experimental vaccine works by training T cells to spot specific proteins on melanoma cells, a type of skin cancer. In the study, scientists found that the T cells continue to “remember” these proteins for at least four years after the vaccination — and they even learn to recognize more melanoma-related proteins over time.

The only way that could have happened is if there was actually killing of the tumor cells. And presumably it was the T cells induced by the vaccine that did that killing,” said study author Dr. Catherine Wu, a physician-scientist with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That’s because, once killed, tumor cells fall apart and spill their contents; T cells then swoop in to examine these remains and log that information away for future attacks, Wu said.

While the results are promising, the new study only included eight patients, and more trials need to be conducted to pin down exactly how effective the vaccine is, she added. But as of now, the limited data hint that the vaccine triggers a persistent immune response and can help keep cancer under control, especially when combined with other immunotherapies, the authors noted. The new study, published Jan. 21 in the journal Nature Medicine, included patients with advanced melanoma who had recently undergone surgery for the cancer. The researchers took samples of the patients’ removed tumors and used them to craft personalized vaccines for each of the eight participants.

Source: https://www.realclearscience.com/

Cancer Vaccine Boosted

Scientists at Thomas Jefferson University who are developing a cancer vaccine to prevent recurrences of gastric, pancreatic, esophageal, and colon cancers say they have added a component that would make the vaccine more effective. The change makes the vaccine less prone to being cleared by the immune system before it can generate immunity against the tumor components.

The preclinical studies pave the way for a Phase II clinical trial opening to patients this fall, according to Adam Snook, PhD, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics and researcher at the NCI-Designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC)—Jefferson Health.

Our data show strong immune responses in mice that might otherwise clear the vaccine, and suggests this approach will be more effective in the human trials we are starting shortly,” he said. “Adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) is a commonly used viral vector for transient delivery of transgenes, primarily for vaccination against pathogen and tumor antigens. However, endemic infections with Ad5 produce virus-specific neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) that limit transgene delivery and constrain target-directed immunity following exposure to Ad5-based vaccines

Indeed, clinical trials have revealed the limitations that virus-specific NAbs impose on the efficacy of Ad5-based vaccines. In that context, the emerging focus on immunological approaches targeting cancer self-antigens or neoepitopes underscores the unmet therapeutic need for more efficacious vaccine vectors.

“Here, we evaluated the ability of a chimeric adenoviral vector (Ad5.F35) derived from the capsid of Ad5 and fiber of the rare adenovirus serotype 35 (Ad35) to induce immune responses to the tumor-associated antigen guanylyl cyclase C (GUCY2C).

In the absence of pre-existing immunity to Ad5, GUCY2C-specific T-cell responses and antitumor efficacy induced by Ad5.F35 were comparable to Ad5 in a mouse model of metastatic colorectal cancer. Furthermore, like Ad5, Ad5.F35 vector expressing GUCY2C was safe and produced no toxicity in tissues with, or without, GUCY2C expression. Importantly, this chimeric vector resisted neutralization in Ad5-immunized mice and by sera collected from patients with colorectal cancer naturally exposed to Ad5.

“These data suggest that Ad5.F35-based vaccines targeting GUCY2C, or other tumor or pathogen antigens, may produce clinically relevant immune responses in more (≥90%) patients compared with Ad5-based vaccines (~50%).”