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Dendritic cell vaccine induces immune responses in patients

September 01, 2015

"We showed that a tumor lysate-pulsed DC vaccine can induce immune responses against the patient's own tumor in a high proportion of patients," stated Dr. Barth, who has been investigating DC-based vaccines in mice and patients for more than 10 years. "There were two basic questions we wanted to answer: one, can we generate an antitumor response, and two, does it matter? From our research, the answer to both questions is yes."

He said DC vaccines have been a research interest at many institutions, and previous studies showed that DC vaccines could not reduce or eliminate measurable metastatic tumor deposits. "It turned out we were asking the T-cells to do too much," he commented. "The small number of T-cells that are generated by a vaccine can't destroy a large tumor. However, what they may be able to do is search out and destroy tumor cells that exist as only microscopic tumor deposits. Once we brought patients into a measurable tumor-free condition with surgery, the anti-tumor T-cells induced by the DC vaccine may help keep them that way."

Follow-up studies are necessary to more fully understand the mechanisms of the DC vaccine and its impact on long-term survival rates, Dr. Barth said. He believes this study may open the door to a significant change in cancer treatment in the future. The DC vaccine is non-toxic, while traditional chemotherapies are highly toxic. "It's your own immune system doing the fighting," he commented. "I'm optimistic that this really will have an impact."

Source: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center