Recruitment begins for world's first ovarian cancer vaccine trial

April 20, 2017
Dr. Pramod Srivastava is now recruiting patients for his UConn Health clinical trial testing the world's first personalized genomics-driven ovarian cancer vaccine Credit: UConn Health/Janine Gelineau.

UConn Health is beginning to recruit patients for the world's first personalized genomics-driven ovarian cancer vaccine clinical trial. The goal: to prevent an often deadly relapse of the disease in women diagnosed at advanced stages.

The pioneering injectable vaccine OncoImmunome works by boosting the patient's immune response to enable it to destroy should they resurface. The FDA approved the human clinical trial testing of the experimental vaccine therapy following published research findings showing its effectiveness in reducing growth in animal models.

The new clinical trial will begin with the enrollment of 15 women with stage III or IV ovarian cancer at initial diagnosis or first relapse who will be closely followed for two years - the timeframe with the highest risk of disease recurrence.

Clinical trial candidates are women diagnosed with advanced stage III or IV ovarian cancer who will have traditional surgery where tumor samples will be collected for vaccine production, followed by standard chemotherapy. If cancer-free after traditional treatment, the women will each receive their personalized vaccine injections once a month for six months. Also, each month their blood will be drawn and evaluated for immune response.

The clinical trial will be led by Dr. Susan Tannenbaum, chief of the Division of Hematology & Oncology at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health. Co-investigators are Dr. Molly Brewer, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Karen Metersky, APRN.

Each ovarian cancer vaccine is individually created at UConn for each woman using her own DNA. Like a fingerprint, each person’s cancer is genetically unique. Credit: Illustration by UConn

"We are pleased that this moment has come," says the vaccine's inventor and immunotherapy expert, Dr. Pramod K. Srivastava, director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health. "This clinical trial will test the power of a patient's own immune system to prevent recurrence of this often fatal disease. We hope this vaccine can fill the huge gap in therapy options for ovarian cancer patients and potentially bring a long-term solution and cure for women battling the disease."

Srivastava adds: "Since this trial is a first of its kind, there are a lot of unknowns. We are hopeful the study will answer some of them."

Each vaccine is individualized for each woman and created using samples of her own DNA from both her unhealthy cancer cells and her healthy blood cells. Over a period of about two weeks, scientists sequence and cross-reference the entire DNA from both sources to pinpoint the most important genetic differences. These genetic differences constitute the ID card, or fingerprint, of that particular patient's cancer, which is unlike the ID card or fingerprint of any other person's cancer. Based on the cancer's fingerprint, bioinformatic scientists led by Ion Mandoiu, PhD, of the School of Computer Sciences and Engineering at UConn in Storrs design the personalized to target the patient's cancerous cells specific genetic mutations.

According to Srivastava, this immunotherapy trial has the potential to lay the foundation for similar genomic-driven personalized cancer vaccines against other major cancers such as prostate, bladder, stomach, colon, breast, lung and other cancers.

This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 22,440 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and approximately 14,080 women will die from the disease. Why? Currently, there is no early-screening test for and no effective long-term treatment. It is often diagnosed at advanced stages following the surfacing of non-specific abdominal symptoms such as bloating. But even after a woman is successfully treated with traditional surgery and chemotherapy, the disease has a very high chance of coming back. Tragically, most die within five years of their diagnosis.

To learn more about the new clinical trial and its enrollment, please visit: here.

Explore further: Immunotherapy delays recurrence for stage III and IV ovarian cancers

Related Stories

Immunotherapy delays recurrence for stage III and IV ovarian cancers

March 30, 2015
Personalized medicine is getting closer to reality for women with late-stage ovarian cancer. An experimental immunotherapy is in the works that can target an individual woman's tumor and extend the time period between initial ...

Screening may reduce risk of advanced ovarian cancer diagnosis

March 2, 2017
Screening women at high risk of ovarian cancer every four months may reduce the likelihood of them being diagnosed with advanced cancer, according to the results of the UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Screening Study (UK FOCSS), ...

Drug combination boost PARP inhibitor response in resistant ovarian cancer

April 3, 2017
About one-third of patients with ovarian cancer who wouldn't be expected to respond to a PARP inhibitor had partial shrinkage of their tumor when a kinase inhibitor was added to treatment, report scientists from Dana-Farber ...

Researchers develop personalized ovarian cancer vaccines

October 7, 2014
Researchers at the University of Connecticut have found a new way to identify protein mutations in cancer cells. The novel method is being used to develop personalized vaccines to treat patients with ovarian cancer.

Mayo Clinic tests vaccine to provide immune response against early breast lesion

February 1, 2017
Only about 35 percent of precancerous breast lesions morph into cancer if untreated, but physicians cannot identify which lesions are potentially dangerous. So all women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ undergo traditional ...

Women's wellness: Early diagnosis for ovarian cancer

September 21, 2016
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and physicians want to raise awareness ...

Recommended for you

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Physical activity could combat fatigue, cognitive decline in cancer survivors

July 25, 2017
A new study indicates that cancer patients and survivors have a ready weapon against fatigue and "chemo brain": a brisk walk.

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

New therapeutic approach for difficult-to-treat subtype of ovarian cancer identified

July 24, 2017
A potential new therapeutic strategy for a difficult-to-treat form of ovarian cancer has been discovered by Wistar scientists. The findings were published online in Nature Cell Biology.

Immune cells the missing ingredient in new bladder cancer treatment

July 24, 2017
New research offers a possible explanation for why a new type of cancer treatment hasn't been working as expected against bladder cancer.

Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent inhibits glioblastoma growth and radiation resistance

July 24, 2017
Glioblastoma is a primary brain tumor with dismal survival rates, even after treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. A small subpopulation of tumor cells—glioma stem cells—is responsible for glioblastoma's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.