The vaccine is prepared using the patient's own B lymphocytes, a type of immune-system cell, obtained through a simple blood draw. In their natural setting, these cells produce antibodies against molecules they sense are foreign or abnormal. In the laboratory, researchers genetically program the B cells to induce an immune response specifically against telomerase, an enzyme present in most cancer types. The genetically programmed B cells are given back to the patient through an intravenous infusion about 24 hours after removing them.
The first person to receive the vaccine is a 66-year-old man from University City. His prostate cancer was diagnosed in 1997. Since that time he has undergone various standard treatments without success, including surgery, which left him cancer free "for a few years," radiation therapy, and most recently hormone therapy which, he says, worked for about a year.
"This approach is novel in many ways, but one important distinguishing characteristic is that it does not use viral or retroviral vectors to introduce the altered gene," said the study's principal investigator Frederick E. Millard, M.D.
Theoretically, this should reduce the risk of side effects, says Millard, who is also medical director of the Cancer Center's Clinical Trials Office, and associate clinical professor of medicine with the UCSD School of Medicine.
This clinical trial is offered only at UCSD, according to Millard.
To be eligible for the study, men of any age must have been diagnosed with hormone refractory prostate cancer, meaning they have undergone hormone therapy that is no longer effective. For further information call the Moores UCSD Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office, 858-657-702
Contact: Nancy Stringer
University of California - San Diego