The researchers correlated the presence or absence of the protein with survival in 52 U.Va. patients with advanced metastatic melanoma who were enrolled in experimental clinical trials over the last decade. They found that survival increased by fifty percent in patients whose T lymphocytes (the immune cells that kill tumors) carried a particular protein, or chemokine receptor, called CXCR3.
Increased survival was seen in patients with Stage III metastatic melanoma, but no increased survival was noticed in patients with Stage IV, stressing the importance of early detection and treatment for melanoma.
"As immunologists continue to target the spread of cancer, this research gives scientists new clues to help develop vaccines that both 'turn-on' cancer-killing immune cells, as well as instruct the cells on how to find tumors. Together, that will improve the efficacy of vaccines against cancer in the future," said the study's principal investigator David W. Mullins, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and a researcher in the Human Immune Therapy Center (HITC) at the U.Va. Health System.
The idea behind this type of vaccine is to activate an immune response within the body against melanoma. In the past, Mullins explained, physicians have delivered vaccines that can get lost in the circulatory system. But, researchers can now target vaccines to certain lymph nodes in the body that they know will generate T cells with the a
Contact: Bob Beard
University of Virginia Health System