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Scientists Announce Progress On Cancer Vaccine

October 22, 1992

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ Seven of nine cancer patients injected with a genetically engineered vaccine made from their own tumors showed progress in fighting the disease, scientists said in a report being published Thursday.

The stuudy could signal a better way to boost patients’ immune systems enough for them to combat their cancer themselves and prevent its recurrence after chemotherapy treatment, said the doctors from Stanford University School of Medicine.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved patients with B-cell lymphoma, each of whom received injections of the individualized vaccine and booster shots for six months.

B-cell lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph glands caused by uncontrolled growth of the B-cells that produce the body’s disease-fighting antibodies.

Previous attempts to stimulate the immune system involving customized manmade antibodies have been relatively promising, but the process used to make them is painstaking.

The scientists believe the genetically engineered vaccine is a better alternative.

In the study, the injections induced sustained immunological responses specific to the B-cell receptor in seven of nine patients. The responses were confirmed by measurements of antibody and immune cell presence in patients’ blood samples.

In addition, measurable cancer in two patients showed a complete regression of their tumors following the vaccine.

″The results provide a ray of hope for therapeutic vaccine against B-cell lymphoma,″ wrote Dr. Robert S. Schwartz of the New England Medical Center wrote in an accompanying editorial. He said B-cell lymphoma is fairly common but stubborn to current treatments.

Schwartz also said the principle of vaccinating patients with their own tumor could have ″potentially broad therapeutic implications″ in the treatment of other diseases of the immune system, like multiple sclerosis.

Seventeen people have received the vaccine since the study was submitted for publication, with similar results, said its director, Ronald Levy.

Others in the study included lead author Larry W. Kwak, Michael Campbell, Richard Miller, Debra Czerwinski and Sarah Hart. The work was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.

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