Roswell Park cancer vaccine uses body's own immunity

Jan. 27, 2012 at 1:59 AM
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BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., began a phase I clinical trial of a dendritic cell vaccine that uses the body's immunity to fight cancer.

The NY-ESO-1 dendritic cell vaccine, developed at Roswell Park, will be manufactured in the institute's new therapeutic cell production facility, using a unique U.S. Food and drug Administration-approved process. Roswell Park will be the first U.S. research facility to use a custom-made barrier isolator for vaccine cell production, the institute said.

Dr. Kunle Odunsi, director of Roswell Park's Center for Immunotherapy, said dendritic cells are the gatekeepers of the human immune system, defending against invaders like bacteria, viruses and cancer.

"Armed with this specialized protein, the treated cells are then given back to the patient as a vaccine designed to recruit an army of killer immune cells that seek out and destroy cancer," Odunsi, the principal investigator, said in a statement.

The study is the first to test a dendritic vaccine given in combination with rapamycin, a compound used to prevent rejection of solid-organ transplant, Odunsi said. The NY-ESO-1 dendritic cell vaccine is expected to show great promise in patients with bladder, brain, breast, esophageal, gastrointestinal, kidney, lung, melanoma, ovarian, prostate, sarcoma and uterine tumors, Odunsi said.

Odunsi led previous trials evaluating the vaccine's effectiveness in treating ovarian cancer. Christine Sable of Lancaster, Pa., enrolled in February 2004, after undergoing surgery and chemotherapy for advanced-stage ovarian cancer. Although she faced a 75 percent to 80 percent chance the cancer would return, her immune system responded to the vaccine, and she is cancer-free seven years later, with no side effects, Odunsi said.

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