New trial to test cancer vaccine begins in UK

New trial to test cancer vaccine begins in UK

Thursday, March 3, 2016 7:59 pm

A cancer cell illustration shows the vaccine at work

A cancer cell illustration shows the vaccine at work

A team of researchers is testing a new vaccine in Britain, which is aimed at enabling the immune system to fight against advanced cancer.

King’s College, London, announced on Thursday that the VAPER trial is taking place at universities and research institutes in London.

It said a Surrey hospital and research centre is expected to commence patient recruitment later this year.

The college said in its publication that the first two patients have already been vaccinated in a trial that is anticipated to run for 18 to 24 months.

It said the trial was aimed at establishing the benefits of the vaccination programme, any side effects, and the impact of the treatment on patients’ quality of life.

Researchers expressed the hope that the results would take them one step closer to developing an effective but non-toxic cancer therapy that can be used in clinical practice.

Dr James Spicer, one of the lead researchers in the team, said the vaccine works by resembling the natural immune responses generated by the body against bacterial and viral infections.

He said all patients with any solid tumour, irrespective of their type of cancer and tumour genetic profile, are believed to have the potential to benefit from this sort of treatment.

“The unique feature of this study is the use of additional agents to boost the vaccination response.

“It is hoped this will abolish the inhibitory effect of regulatory immune cells present in the patients’ circulation, which are believed to have limited the effectiveness of previous cancer vaccine approaches,” he said.

Spicer said the design of the VAPER trial builds on results obtained from previous pilot immunotherapy studies and is supported by data from related trials carried out in the UK, U.S. and elsewhere in Europe.

He said should the trial prove successful, it would be expanded to a larger number of patients to further assess its effectiveness.

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