Recruitment begins for world's first ovarian cancer vaccine trial

April 20, 2017, University of Connecticut
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

'Kiss of death' cancer: How computational geeks may have uncovered a therapy for a deadly disease

June 19, 2018
It's called the 'kiss of death'. Triple negative breast cancer has no targeted drug therapy and, as such, the only hope for these patients is chemotherapy. Triple negative breast cancer is aggressive and deadly. Patients ...

Ovarian cancer cells switched off by 'unusual' mechanism

June 19, 2018
Scientists at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre at Imperial College London have discovered a mechanism that deactivates ovarian cancer cells.

Team discovers gene mutations linked to pancreatic cancer

June 19, 2018
Six genes contain mutations that may be passed down in families, substantially increasing a person's risk for pancreatic cancer. That's according to Mayo Clinic research published in the June 19 edition of the JAMA. However, ...

Breast cancer could be prevented by targeting epigenetic proteins, study suggests

June 19, 2018
Researchers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto have discovered that epigenetic proteins promote the proliferation of mammary gland stem cells in response to the sex hormone progesterone. The study, which will ...

Targeting the engine room of the cancer cell

June 18, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) have developed a highly innovative computational framework that can support personalized cancer treatment by matching individual tumors with the drugs or drug ...

Study suggests well-known growth suppressor actually fuels lethal brain cancers

June 18, 2018
Scientists report finding a potentially promising treatment target for aggressive and deadly high-grade brain cancers like glioblastoma. But they also say the current lack of a drug that hits the molecular target keeps it ...

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.