“A novel class of personalised cancer vaccines, tailored to the tumours of individual patients, kept disease in check in two early-stage clinical trials, pointing to a new way to help the immune system fight back.
“Although so-called immunotherapy drugs from the likes of Merck & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche are starting to revolutionise cancer care, they still only work for a limited number of patients.
“By adding a personalised cancer vaccine, scientists believe it should be possible to improve substantially the effectiveness of such immune-boosting medicines.”
With a few exceptions, glioblastoma (GBM) remains largely incurable, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved few treatments for the disease. Surgery (when feasible), radiation, and temozolomide are used in most patients. But even if a newly diagnosed tumor can be surgically excised, recurrences are too common.
In this blog post, I simply list some of the new treatments available in clinical trials for GBM and other high-grade brain tumors. Only drugs that have at least some preliminary results of activity are included, and the list is not meant to be fully comprehensive. The interested reader can judge for herself what might be of interest, keeping in mind that no single treatment is suitable or will work for all GBM patients. Continue reading…
In spring of 2014, Peter Fortenbaugh noticed what appeared to be a tick that had bitten his lower calf. “It turned out not to be a tick, but it didn’t really go away,” he says.
The spot began to grow and bulge, and in October, Peter showed it to his primary care doctor, who referred him to a dermatologist to remove it. At the time, Peter recalls, it did not occur to him that the growth could be serious.
“I was actually very concerned about skin cancer because I spent a lot of time out in the sun sailing,” Peter says. “I put on a tremendous amount of sunscreen and protection, but never on my legs…I never connected the dots.”
However, a biopsy of the growth came back positive for melanoma. Peter, who lives in Palo Alto, California, with his wife and three children, immediately reached out to several doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area, and all had the same advice: “Take it out, take a biopsy.” Continue reading…
“Deregulation and inhibition of the immune system contributes to cancer development. Many therapeutic strategies aim to re-stimulate the immune system to recognize cancer cells and target them for destruction. Researchers from Moffitt Cancer Center report that a dendritic cell vaccine that targets the HER2 protein on breast cancer cells is safe and effectively stimulates the immune system leading to regression of early-stage breast cancer.”
“Roswell Park Cancer Institute launched a clinical trial that will assess CIMAvax-EGF, a novel Cuban-developed immunotherapy for lung cancer.
“This is the first time an American center received FDA authorization to sponsor a clinical trial offering a Cuban-made therapy to U.S. patients. Researchers are working to accelerate the process of this and other innovative therapies to patients worldwide through a historic new business venture with the Cuban research institute.”
“Immunotherapy is a fast growing area of cancer research. It involves developing therapies that use a patient’s own immune system to fight and kill cancer. Moffitt Cancer Center is working on a new vaccine that would help early-stage breast cancer patients who have HER2 positive disease.
“The HER2 protein is overexpressed in nearly 25 percent of all breast cancer tumors and is associated with aggressive disease and poor prognosis. Moffitt researchers, led by physician-scientist Brian J. Czerniecki, M.D., Ph.D., have previously shown that immune cells are less able to recognize and target cancer cells that express HER2 as breast cancer progresses into a more advanced and invasive stage. This suggests that strategies that can restimulate the immune system to recognize and target HER2 early during cancer development may be effective treatment options.”
“Zuby Malik is an unlikely candidate to violate international law. A 78-year-old mother of four with a crown of silver hair, she is a retired obstetrician-gynecologist with a penchant for order.
“But Ms. Malik is fighting for her life. After receiving a Stage 4 non-small-cell lung cancer diagnosis a year ago, she exhausted many of the treatments available to her and grappled with torturous side effects that left her itching and gasping for breath. During the summer, she decided to go to Cuba and bring back a cancer vaccine that is not approved in the United States. That she comes from a family steeped in medical training made the decision all the more difficult.”
“The field of cancer vaccines may be reinvigorated by a new understanding, and the therapeutic leveraging, of neoantigens. Researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston are exploring this novel approach as a means of protecting patients with high-risk melanoma from recurrence. Early results from a phase I study were reported at the 2nd International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference by Patrick A. Ott, MD, PhD, Clinical Director of the Melanoma Center and the Center for Immuno-Oncology.”
“The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first clinical trial to test a Cuban drug in the United States — a lung-cancer vaccine developed in Havana.
“The decision on the early-stage trial was announced Wednesday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and officials at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, based in Buffalo. The trial could start as soon as next month and will enroll 60 to 90 patients. It is likely to take three years to complete.
“The trial will test the CIMAvax-EGF vaccine, combined with an immunotherapy drug called Opdivo, which has already been approved in the United States. The goal is to see if the pairing improves effectiveness.”