An immunotherapy trial to test a new terminal cancer vaccine will begin soon in the United Kingdom. The trial will determine if the vaccine can effectively stimulate the body's immune system to kill unhealthy cells.
The Surrey Cancer Research Institute-led team are currently looking for cancer patients with solid tumors who have not responded to previous treatments. As the vaccine is based on key cancer protein fragments, patients with solid tumors could potentially benefit from the immunotherapy, regardless of cancer type.
"We know that the immune system in patients with advanced cancer is suppressed, so it's unable to recognize and kill cancer cells," said Professor Hardev Pandha, who is leading the UK trial at the Surrey Cancer Research Institute.
Early last month, U.S. experts reported "extraordinary" results in previous trials concerning terminally ill blood cancer patients. The immunotherapy trial involves the administration of a vaccine plus application of cream on the injection area. The cream stimulates immunity, which improves the vaccine's activity.
The patients who will join the trial will be given low-dose chemotherapy tablets while others will take the anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drug celecoxib.
"This trial is pushing new boundaries for potential cancer treatments, and brings new hope for patients in the fight against cancer," said life sciences minister George Freeman.
The immunotherapy trial in London and Guildford will run for two years. Two patients already received the new vaccine.
Thirty-five-year-old Kelly Potter from Beckenham, Kent became one of the first few cancer patients to receive the vaccine. Potter's diagnosis of advanced cervical cancer came in July 2015.
Potter shared that the disease has already spread to other parts of her body, particularly to her lungs and liver. At the Guy's Hospital in London, she was informed that she's eligible for the immunotherapy trial.
"To be part of this trial has changed my life for the better. It's been a very positive experience and really interesting," shared Potter, who feels honored to be involved in the trial.
Potter received her first vaccine on Feb. 9. She will visit the hospital seven more times to complete the trial treatment. The doctors said she might experience flu-like symptoms but Potter said she has not experienced any symptoms to date.
She mentioned that she's getting the best treatment at Guy's but it is also "fantastic" that she is part of a trial that could be groundbreaking.
Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases | Flickr