• Melanoma vaccine clinical trial enlisting patients
    The treatment could help get rid of cancer cells


Melanoma vaccine clinical trial enlisting patients

Nov 22 2013

A new clinical trial for an experimental vaccine against skin cancer has started enrolling patients. Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, US has begun recruiting patients that have melanoma for a study that test the effectiveness of a vaccine that makes the immune system fight the cancer.

The vaccine works by training the skin cancer sufferer's immune system so that it attacks the cancerous cells, which could be hugely beneficial in fighting this common form of the disease. To create the vaccine, scientists remove T cells from the patients' immune system that are classed as the 'killer' cells - those that seek and destroy viruses. 

These are then modified in a laboratory by adding two genes into the cells. These genes allow the T cells to identify the cancerous cells as being abnormal and so they attack them. Before the T cells are put back into the patients, they undergo high-dose chemotherapy to get rid of remaining T cells. This makes room for the modified cells in the patients' bodies, allowing them to function correctly.

Doctor Joseph Clark, a principal investigator of the trial, said: "This clinical trial is a unique attempt to manipulate a person's own immune system to attack their cancer in a more effective and specific manner." 

The Phase I trial will help to identify the right dose of the vaccine and help to measure how safe it is and how it is tolerated. A total of four different doses will be tested, the highest of which includes around five billion modified T cells. Phase II will begin once the treatment is shown to be safe, this next step will be used to ascertain how effective this type of treatment can be.

The treatment is designed to be beneficial to those whose melanoma has spread to other areas of their body and those that have no other treatment options available to them.

Doctor Clark said: "This is a terrible, devastating disease. It starts on the skin and can spread to just about anywhere in the body. We need better treatments. Our clinical trial is designed for patients who have no other options."

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