Phase 1 trials begin of a cancer vaccine

English: Widener Library, Harvard University 2009

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard University have launched a human trial to test a potential vaccine against melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

The cross-disciplinary team of scientists, engineers and clinicians includes researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. The researchers are now recruiting patients for the Phase I study, which is expected to conclude in 2015. The study’s goal is to assess the safety of the vaccine. Future trials could potentially test its efficacy. The trial represents a new approach in therapeutic cancer-vaccine development. Cancer vaccines available today, such as Dendreon Corp.’s Provenge for prostate cancer, require doctors to first remove a patient’s immune cells, reprogram them and then reintroduce them back into the body. But this new approach, tested in mice in 2009, implants a small sponge about the size of a fingernail. Once it’s implanted under the skin, the sponge attracts the patient’s own immune cells and re-programs them to be cancer-killers.

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