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Patients' cells from tumors, the immune system merged for customized cancer therapy

o the tumor.

"The increase of these interferon-producing T cells indicated that the fusion cell vaccination was promoting a heightened response by the immune system," Avigan said. "That response was targeted at antigens on the tumor cells."

The vaccine was well tolerated with only minimal toxicity observed. While a potential concern with vaccine therapy is the induction of an immune response against normal tissues of the body, no evidence of significant autoimmunity was seen.

A third of the study participants responded positively to the customized therapy. Among the breast cancer patient to be immunized, one woman responded to the trial vaccination with 80 percent regression of her chest wall tumor mass within a month. After four months, the tumor had regressed by 90 percent. She remained stable with no evidence of progression during the following two years. A second patient responded with regression of half a tumor that had spread to her adrenal gland, and almost half a pulmonary nodule as well. That individual showed resumed disease progression after a half year. A third breast cancer patient, and five kidney cancer patients, remained stable for three to nine months after completion of the vaccination treatments.

"The results from this patient group, while preliminary, hold promise that fusion cell technology may emerge as an effective immunotherapeutic strategy allowing patients to use their own immune system to fight their cancer," Avigan said.

While the results were not universal to all the study participants, Avigan said that that further development of the vaccination, and application on patients with less advanced disease and whose immune systems were less severely weakened, may increase the positive results observed in the Harvard group's initial Phase I trail.

Kufe's and Avigan's colleagues in the study were comprised of researchers from two Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, the Dana-Farber C
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Contact: Russell Vanderboom
vanderboom@aacr.org
215-440-9300
American Association for Cancer Research
15-Jul-2004


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