(NewsGlobal.com)- Researchers in the UK say a personalized cancer vaccine has produced “really hopeful” early results.
The vaccine, which uses similar technology to the COVID vaccine, was given to eight head and neck cancer patients at the National Health Service’s Clatterbridge Cancer Center in Merseyside after they had received standard treatment and none of the patients went on to relapse several months later.
Two patients in the control group who didn’t receive the vaccine did see their cancer return.
Professor Christian Ottensmeier, the director of clinical research at Clatterbridge, told Sky News he was “cautiously optimistic” about the results, adding that all of the data points in the right direction.
The vaccine, TG4050, was developed by the French company Transgene using similar technology as the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine. It is tailor-made for each patient using DNA found in the patient’s tumor. Once injected, the body is instructed to create identical proteins to those found on the surface of the tumor, triggering an immune response.
Theoretically, any cancer cells with the same surface proteins that remain in the bloodstream after surgery are then destroyed by T cells, thus preventing the cancer from returning.
Professor Ottensmeier told Sky News that if the immune system can be trained to pick out the cancer cells that would lead to a relapse long before they are detected on scans, the “long-term survival chances for our patients are much higher.”
Currently, thirty patients are taking part in the vaccine trial for head and neck cancers. Half are given the vaccine as soon as they complete conventional treatment while the other half receive the vaccine only when they relapse.
Transgene’s chief medical officer, Dr. Maud Brandely, said the personalized vaccine has provided patients with “new hope” in the fight to treat cancer.
Some, however, remain skeptical over the feasibility of such a personalized vaccine treatment.
Dr. Juanita Lopez, a clinical researcher at The Institute of Cancer Research, warned that a “highly personalized” vaccine strategy is time-consuming and complex, taking roughly four weeks to generate a vaccine for a single patient.
Lopez expressed doubts that the National Health Service could feasibly afford to make such a “hugely expensive” treatment available through the NHS.