A new study published in the Nature journal gives hope to the future of cancer treatments. By creating a neoantigen through cancer vaccines, research showed the immune cells safely attacked the tumor cells and prevented the patients from relapsing. While the study is still in early trials, the method points into the right direction.
Custom Cancer Vaccines Might Be The Future of Cancer Treatment
The clinical trials so far involved a total of 19 patients with skin melanoma. Neoantigen is a new type of vaccine in immunotherapy which presupposes the harvesting of the tumor cells which are patient-specific. By triggering the neoantigen, researchers hoped to spur the immune cells into attacking the tumor by targeting the specific mutated protein within and thus leaving the healthy cells alone. The treatment proved to be efficient in both trials, with a total success rate of 70%.
These vaccines aimed to force the checkpoint inhibitors to stop blocking the T-cells from attacking the cancer cells. They are currently a middle road, as prior clinical trials used bio-engineered T-cells that provoked a full-body immune response which killed some of the patients. Therefore, by creating mutation-based vaccines, the T-cell will recognize the mutation in the body more easily and eliminate the cells that present the same mutation.
So far, in the trials, the neoantigens were created by using a mix of peptides specific for the skin cancer of each patient. Of the 19 patients, 12 were cancer free with no recurrence or follow-up intervention with anti-PD1 immunotherapy. Researchers confirmed that in both cases it was the neoantigen that triggered the T-cells to attack the cancer. The side effects were mild such as rashes or symptoms characteristic of the flu.
Both trials, however, were on a small scale and there was no control group, so there isn’t a definitive answer to the efficacy of the neoantigen. Researchers plan to move on larger-scale trials to prove the potential of cancer vaccines.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
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