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Therapeutic Vaccine Combined With Revlimid Achieves Response In High-Risk MDS Patients (ASH 2011)

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Published: Feb 27, 2012 12:48 pm
Therapeutic Vaccine Combined With Revlimid Achieves Response In High-Risk MDS Patients (ASH 2011)

Preliminary findings from an ongoing Phase 1 trial show that a therapeutic vaccine combined with Revlimid generates a treatment response in some high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes patients.

Furthermore, among patients in the trial who have responded to the combination regimen, an immune system response also was observed.

This suggests that the treatment may be encouraging the body’s immune system to fight the myelodysplastic syndromes, which is what the researchers hoped to achieve with the treatment regimen.

The researchers’ findings were presented during a poster session at the 2011 meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in December.

While options for the management of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) continue to improve, disease relapse remains common. Therefore, developing treatments that have the potential to cure MDS is the research goal of many scientists.

One treatment strategy that has attracted attention from researchers is therapeutic vaccination, a form of treatment that leverages a patient’s immune system to fight and destroy cancer cells.

The goal of therapeutic vaccination is to activate cells in the body’s immune system to recognize cancerous cells as “foreign,” ultimately resulting in their destruction.

To date, such strategies have remained limited when it comes to treating MDS due to the difficulty in generating immune responses that specifically target the disease.

In the current study, researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, investigated the use of a therapeutic vaccine known as a cellular vaccine, in combination with Revlimid (lenalidomide), to treat high-risk MDS patients.

Cellular vaccines are therapeutic vaccines that include cells that have cancer-specific proteins on their surface that activate the immune system. When the immune system is activated, proteins called antibodies are released into the bloodstream.  The antibodies recognize cancer cells and signal the immune system to destroy them.

Fifteen high-risk MDS patients who have previously failed Vidaza (azacitidine) or Dacogen (decitabine) treatment have participated in the Moffitt study so far.

Among the current participants, 27 percent responded to treatment, with 13 percent achieving a complete response, 7 percent a complete bone marrow response, and 7 percent a partial response.

All responding patients had elevated immune responses against cancer cells following vaccination compared to immune responses measured prior to vaccination.

Researchers also found evidence that, in patients with elevated immune responses following vaccination, there was a decreased level of proteins associated with cancer cells.  These results suggest that the immune response following vaccination in these patients resulted in the destruction of MDS cells.

For more information, please see abstract 1725 at the ASH 2011 meeting website.

Photo by Tim Vickers on Wikipedia – some rights reserved.
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