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Washington University Tests Lung Cancer Vaccine

6:10 AM, May 11, 2007   |    comments
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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality, resulting in more than 160,000 deaths per year in the United States. Despite aggressive treatment with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, the long-term survival for lung cancer patients remains low. For several decades, researchers have sought an effective anti-tumor therapy based on the body's immune response. Scientists know that lung cancer cells produce substances that would be expected to cause the immune system to attack and eliminate them. But for unknown reasons, the immune system does not kill lung cancer cells. The vaccine used in this trial is meant to teach the immune system to respond to lung cancer cells. It does this by taking advantage of one of the strongest human immune responses – the response to antigens on cells from animals such as pigs or mice. Such antigens provoke a rapid immune response that destroys foreign cells within hours. The HyperAcute vaccine consists of killed lung cancer cells that have been genetically engineered to produce mouse antigens on their surfaces. Introducing these cells into patients with lung cancer will cause the body to produce immune cells that recognize not only the mouse antigens but other cell-surface molecules characteristic of the killed lung cancer cells. Having been primed in this way, the immune system is now ready to attack live lung cancer cells in the vaccinated patients. The trial is enrolling patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who have received first-line platinum-doublet chemotherapy and whose cancer has responded to the treatment or whose disease has remained stable. Participants will be given vaccine injections twelve times over six months and their health will be monitored for up to fifteen years following the trial. To participate in the trial call (314)362-1000.

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