A recent study, published in Science Translational Medicine, has demonstrated that a personalized vaccination for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients in remission stimulates the expansion of leukemia-specific T cells in the blood and bone marrow, and may be protective against disease relapse.
In this pilot study, carried out by researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (both MA, USA), 17 AML patients who had achieved remission after chemotherapy received a personalized vaccine. The vaccine consisted of patient-derived AML cells and autologous dendritic cells.
Co-author Donald W Kufe (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) commented: “The development of this personalized vaccine by our team was based on the premise that effective treatment of established cancers would require the induction of immunity against multiple antigens, including neoantigens, specifically expressed by the patient’s own cancer cells.”
The team demonstrated that the vaccine stimulated a powerful immune response that was characterized by the expansion of leukemia-specific T cells. The success of the vaccine was highlighted by the fact that > 70% of the patients remained alive without disease recurrence after an average follow-up period of more than 4 years.
Lead author Jacalyn Rosenblatt (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) commented on the clinical significance of the findings: “With the vaccine, we use the immune system to target the whole tumor including cells that may be resistant to chemotherapy. We were really excited to see that the vaccine generated a broad and durable immune response without significant side effects.”
Based on these initially promising results, the team are now leading a national study to test the efficacy of the vaccine in patients with multiple myeloma. The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is also collaborating with 15 other leading cancer centers to conduct a national vaccine study.
Sources: Rosenblatt J, Stone RM, Uhl L et al. Individualized vaccination of AML patients in remission is associated with induction of antileukemia immunity and prolonged remissions Sci. Transl. Med. 368, 7–8 (2016); Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center press release