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Study Suggests Vaccine Increases Survival In Ovarian And Breast Cancer Patients Following High-Dose Chemotherapy And Autologous Stem Cell Transplant

A new study suggests that the administration of an experimental cancer vaccine following autologous stem cell transplant can increase survival and decrease relapse in ovarian and breast cancer patients when compared to the stem cell transplant procedure alone. The data was presented today at the 35th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Atlanta, May 15-18, 1999.

The research team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, led by Leona Holmberg, M.D., Ph.D., and Brenda Sandmaier, M.D., treated 40 cancer patients (11 high-risk stage II/III breast, 22 stage IV breast and 7 stage III/IV ovarian) with high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous/syngeneic stem cell transplantation. Twenty-six of the 40 patients also received five doses of THERATOPEO vaccine (STn-KLH), a therapeutic vaccine being developed by Biomira, Inc. of Alberta, Canada (NASDAQ: BIOM) (TSE, ME: BRA) that induces the body's immune system to mount a response against cancerous cells.

All patients were treated between Sept. 1, 1995 and Nov. 18, 1997. To gain preliminary evidence of the potential efficacy of the THERATOPE vaccine, the outcome of vaccinated patients was retrospectively compared to the outcome of patients not vaccinated.

Investigators found that the chance of death was more than 2 times greater among patients in the control group compared to patients vaccinated with THERATOPEO vaccine. The chance of relapse was approximately 1.7 times greater for patients in the control group compared to those vaccinated. In addition, those vaccinated patients with the highest amount of specific killing activity against STn-bearing cancer cells appeared to remain the longest in remission.

According to Dr. Holmberg, M.D., Ph.D., THERATOPEO vaccine was well tolerated after autologous stem cell transplant and in preliminary data may have improved outcomes. These results need to be considered within the debate over hematopoietic stem cell transpl
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Contact: Susan Edmonds
sedmonds@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
15-May-1999


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