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Ovarian Cancer Patients May Benefit from Personalized Vaccines

April 18, 2018

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By Nancy Gay

Ovarian cancer patients may benefit from personalized vaccines that produce anti-tumor T cells, according to a team of researchers including Moffitt Cancer Center’s Dr. Brian Czerniecki.

According to the American Cancer Society more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States this year. It is often referred to as the silent killer because there usually aren’t any symptoms until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.

The researchers looked at the impact a personalized vaccine, made from a patient’s own tumor and dendritic cells (immune "helper" cells) from her blood, would have on recurrent advanced epithelial ovarian cancer.

Currently, the standard treatment for advanced epithelial ovarian cancer is surgery combined with chemotherapy. Though patients typically have a good initial response, most relapse and ultimately develop resistance to chemotherapy, leaving them with no therapeutic options. 

The research team administrated 392 vaccine doses without serious side effects. They found that the vaccine-induced T cell responses to the patients’ own tumors, which significantly increased survival. 

The personalized vaccine was shown to help ovarian cancer patients mount a stronger immune response, improve survival rates and was deemed safe. These preliminary results demonstrate that pursuing larger studies of these vaccines is warranted. Science Translational Medicine published the research in April 2018.