Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

Experimental Melanoma Vaccine Shows Promise in Study

'Personalized immunotherapy' may one day treat late-stage skin cancer

  • Print

THURSDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Six of seven advanced melanoma patients had a positive response to an experimental vaccine, a finding that shows promise for personalized skin cancer treatment, researchers report.

The vaccine also slowed tumor progression in three of the patients, according to the investigators at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

This cutting-edge approach -- considered by many the future of cancer treatment -- uses a patient's own cells to enhance an immune response to the attacking cancer cells and slow their growth, the study authors explained.

"This is personalized immunotherapy," said senior researcher Dr. Gerald Linette, an associate professor of medicine and neurosurgery.

Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers. Each year in the United States more than 76,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed, and nearly 10,000 die from the disease, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

The immune system plays a part in melanoma, Linette said, and the researchers wanted to see if a molecule called interleukin 12p70 could mount an immune response against the cancer.

"The results show that, in fact, interleukin 12p70 was very important in controlling the disease," he said. "It promoted a response where T cells of the immune system act directly against the melanoma."

Some patients make a lot of interleukin 12p70, and those are the patients who did well. But some patients make very little or no interleukin 12p70, and those are the patients who did worse, Linette said. For those patients, another way of enhancing the response will have to be tried, he said.

The study, published online July 11 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, discusses use of the vaccine on seven patients with recently diagnosed stage IV cancer, meaning the cancer had spread to other areas of the body.

Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, "This is a great first step."

Techniques such as this will be standard some day, she believes. "We are at the infancy of this, but this is going to end up being the way we cure cancer," Green added.

Currently, the prognosis is bleak for late-stage melanoma, Green noted. "If you have advanced melanoma, there is no treatment," she said.

The experimental vaccine is made from a patient's dendritic cells, which is a type of immune cell. The researchers modified the cells to increase production of interleukin 12p70, which stimulates a robust immune response to the cancer, Linette explained.

The research team was able to activate these dendritic cells before giving them back to the patient, he said.

The vaccine seems safer than earlier attempts, but it will be years before such an approach might be put into practice. For now, no clinical trials are planned, Linette said.

"Scientists have been testing vaccines in cancer patients for about 15 years, and the results have been rather discouraging," Linette added. "It's going to take at least five to 10 years more testing before scientists agree what's the best dendritic cell vaccine."

More information

For more information on melanoma, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Eddie the fat cat has dropped two pounds on diet

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 25, 2013 - 130625  -  A storm lit up Winnipeg Tuesday, June 25, 2013. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press - lightning
  • June 24, 2012 - 120624  -  Amusement riders on the last day of The Ex Sunday June 24, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support a proposed ban on tanning beds for youth under 18?

View Results

Ads by Google