Ovarian Cancer Vaccine Made From Tumors Yields Responses

April 8, 2013

Researchers from Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center and the Ovarian Cancer Research Center reported on Saturday during the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting that a new immunotherapy approach that uses patients' own tumor tissue and dendritic cells is helping make headway against a formidable foe -- late-stage ovarian cancer. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bloomberg News, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today (via HealthDay News), and MedPageToday reported on the findings, which were presented in a press conference during the conference in Washington, DC, by Lana Kandalaft, PharmD, PhD, MTR, a research assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of clinical development and operations in Penn Medicine's Ovarian Cancer Research Center. A therapeutic vaccine - tested in 31 patients so far -- was the first step in a two-part process that involved teaching the woman's blood cells to recognize the cancer, then infusing an army of her own infection-fighting immune system cells to attack the tumor. "We are preventing progression of already existing disease," Kandalaft said. "Most of the patients are now on a maintenance vaccine, just to keep the system going. We haven't seen them recur. We are seeing how long they can go." Janos Tanyi, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is the principal investigator of the trial. TV stories about the new research also aired on NBC and FOX news affiliates in 106 cities across the nation, including Boston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.