Researchers at UC Davis have found that the investigational cancer vaccine tecemotide, when administered with the chemotherapeutic cisplatin, boosted immune response and reduced the number of tumors in mice with lung cancer.
The study also found that radiation treatments did not significantly impair the immune response. The paper was published on March 10 in the journal Cancer Immunology Research, an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) publication.
Though tecemotide, also known as Stimuvax, has shown great potential at times, the recent Phase III trial found no overall survival benefit for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, further analysis showed one group of patients, who received concurrent chemotherapy and radiation followed by tecemotide, did benefit from the vaccine. As a result, tecemotide’s manufacturer, Merck KGaA, is sponsoring additional post-clinical animal and human studies, so far with good results.
“There aren’t any good options for patients with inoperable stage III lung cancer following mainline chemotherapies,” said UC Davis Professor of Medicine and lead author Michael DeGregorio. “We are looking at tecemotide as a potential maintenance therapy to prolong survival and improve quality of life.”
Tecemotide activates an immune response by targeting the protein MUC1, which is often overexpressed in lung, breast, prostate and other cancers. The vaccine stimulates production of interferon gamma and MUC1-targeted killer T-lymphocytes, which seek out and destroy MUC1 cancer cells.
The team, which included investigators from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Radiation Oncology, wanted to know if cisplatin/tecemotide treatments, along with radiation therapy, could boost the immune response and alter lung cancer’s trajectory, stabilizing the disease.
The study produced a number of positive results. Tecemotide increased interferon gamma levels and boosted the T-cell response to MUC1-expressing cancer cells. When administered by themselves, both tecemotide and cisplatin reduced the number of lung tumors. However, combining these therapies enhanced their impact, suggesting that tecemotide may increase cisplatin’s anticancer activity.
Though radiation therapy did reduce the number of lymphocytes, it did not appear to hamper the immune response. In addition, interferon levels actually increased several hours after radiation treatments.
“Radiation may actually be helpful by exposing targets for the vaccine,” said DeGregorio.
While this study revives hope for tecemotide as a potential NSCLC therapy, there are still questions to be answered. Researchers need to further refine these therapies to determine which protocols provide the best survival benefits. In addition, tecemotide can only be effective if it does not exhaust the immune system in the process. Still, the research provides a ray of hope for patients with few options.
“We believe this vaccine could be coupled with standard treatments to create a maintenance therapy,” said DeGregorio. “If we can help patients with a life expectancy of 18 to 20 months increase that to 30 months or more, with a high quality of life, that’s a big benefit.”
Other authors included: Chiao-Jung Kao, Gregory T. Wurz, Arta M. Monjazeb, Daniel P. Vang, Timothy B. Cadman, Stephen M. Griffey, all of UC Davis; and Michael Wolf of Merck.
This study was funded by a grant from Merck KGaA.
Dorsey Griffith | EurekAlert!
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences