Trial for a personalised cancer vaccine has started

Posted on 2017-11-20

Cancer vaccines are one of the most exciting forms of immunotherapy treatment. Typically, cancer vaccines have dependent on identifying common exo-antigens present on a few types of cancers. This limited their usage for patient's treatment.

Moderna Therapeutics is taking advantage of gene sequencing technology to scan cancer tissue samples and develop personalised cancer vaccines.

When antigens from the sample have been identified they can be compared to blood samples to find exo-antigens. After cancer-specific antigens have been found, information can be transcribed into messager RNA (mRNA) which is injected into the body educating the patient's immune system to fight cancer by itself.

Cancer growths can be very different from one another so this approach personalises the vaccine for each patient, hopefully resulting in effective targeting and destruction of cancer cells.

“An individualized medicine designed to help each patient’s immune system better recognize cancer as foreign and attack it would be a critical addition to oncologists’ treatment arsenal, potentially helping many more patients respond more effectively to treatment,” said Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, a principal investigator on the study, in a press release.

Moderna Therapeutics has recently injected their vaccine into the first human patient to test its capabilities. Similar tests have produced positive results.

The trial has 90 patients scheduled to take part all of whom are have had surgery to remove their tumour. We will have to wait before anyone can determine how successful this trial will be, although one can't help but get excited at a combination of sophisticated medicine and technology.

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