The vaccine has been tested in two small groups of people with melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Twelve of the 19 test subjects remained cancer-free for two years after vaccine administration, the researchers published in the Nature magazine.
“This is not yet the breakthrough everyone is waiting for,” John Haanen, an oncologist of the Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Hospital told RTL Nieuws. “For this, it is still too early.”
According to the researchers, the vaccine works better than existing immunotherapy because the existing immune treatments focus on one specific cancer cell trait. The vaccine teaches a patient’s immune system to fight 10 to 20 proteins that are unique to the tumor of the person. Those proteins do not occur on healthy cells.
Haanen sees the vaccine study as a first step. “Patients did not have any tumors at this time,” he explains. The vaccine may have prevented cancer from returning. “There must be bigger studies to confirm.” The researchers themselves also want to test the vaccine with a larger group of patients.
In the present form, the vaccine is too expensive to use as a treatment. For each patient, a new vaccine is required, tailored to the characteristics of the tumor of that person.
The next step will be a test in a larger group of patients to prove the efficacy of the vaccine.
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