Penn's Cancer Vaccine Turning Poor Prognosis Into Promise

Ian Bush
April 13, 2018 - 10:30 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Supercharging the immune system to attack cancer: that's the goal of a new vaccine being developed by Penn Medicine, where researchers say it's already showing promise.  

The personalized treatment emerges when the patient's immune cells are exposed to their tumor cells.

There, in the lab, a few cancer fighters are swelled to a massive force and are primed to target specific mutations. Once it's injected into the lymph nodes, the vaccine begins what should be a formidible offensive.

In the journal Science Translational Medicine, the Penn and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research scientists report those who responded well to the treatment -- about half of the 25 in this early feasibility trial -- lived much longer and without tumor progression.

One woman, a 46-year-old with stage four ovarian cancer, remained disease free for five years. 

The lead researcher at Penn says the vaccine appears to be safe and warrants further testing in larger clinical trials.