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Vaccine targeting mulitple myeloma protein extends progression-free survival

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells, which grow out of control, crowding out the normal cells that help fight infection. Credit – Multiple Myeloma Foundation

CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 1, 2023 – Researchers have shown in an early stage clinical trial that a vaccine targeting a certain protein produced longer lasting response to stem cell treatment for multiple myeloma, a chronic and incurable cancer of blood plasma cells.

The vaccine is a dendritic cell vaccine engineered to target a protein called survivin, which is highly produced in multiple myeloma. Dendritic cells are immune cells that take up foreign proteins and breaks them down into components that other immune cells can recognize and attack.

“High expression of survivin at diagnosis is associated with poor outcomes,” Frederick Locke, MD, of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida said in a press release. “Therefore, we hypothesized that by targeting this protein, we could induce an immune response in patients who have the most aggressive disease and potentially keep them in remission for a longer period of time.”

In the clinical trial 13 patients with multiple myeloma who had undergone chemotherapy to eliminate as many cancer cells as possible to induce remission. They then received one dose of the vaccine within 30 days before standard treatment with an infusion of the patient’s own stem cells, known as Autologous Stem Cell Therapy (ASCT) and another vaccine dose 21 days after ASCT.

The study results showed in seven patients that the vaccine in combination with ASCT stimulated either a T-cell response directed against the cancer or an antibody response against the cancer . After a follow-up of 4.2 years, six of these seven patients survived disease-free.

The researchers calculated that progression-free survival was 71 percent, which is considerably better than the historical progression-free survival of 50 percent in these high-risk patients.

“Our study showed that we can target survivin with a vaccine-based approach and induce immune responses, and it suggested that this strategy could ultimately help improve patient outcomes,” added Locke. “Larger, randomized studies are needed to confirm our findings and to assess whether moving vaccination to earlier in the disease course would be beneficial in preventing patients from developing aggressive forms of myeloma.”

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and by private donors.

Source: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) press release


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