New vaccine promises to stop spread of lung cancer

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The world may soon be able to slow down or stop progression of lung cancer – the most common malignancy worldwide as far as incidence and mortality are concerned.
Scientists say they have found an effective new cancer vaccine TG4010, which when combined with standard chemotherapy, enhances the effect of chemotherapy and slows down the progression of advanced non-small-cell-lung cancer (NSCLC) – the most common type of lung cancer – as compared to chemotherapy.
The finding has been published in the medical journal “Lancet Oncology” on Saturday.
Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer. In some places, it is the most common because of tobacco consumption. Around 90% of lung cancers are NSCLC, which is very aggressive. More than 85% report to a doctor in advanced stages. If detected in stage 1, the cure rate is 70%, while in stage 3, it is 20%. Majority of the patients, however, come to us when in stage four. So a vaccine that can slow down progression and also improve chemotherapy effects will be a boon.
NSCLC accounts for about 80% of lung cancer cases, and is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. About half of NSCLC patients are diagnosed with advanced disease and chemotherapy is their only treatment option.
In advanced lung cancer, the MUC1 protein is altered and produced in excess by tumour cells. Around 60% of NSCLCs over express MUC1.
TG4010 is a novel therapeutic vaccine designed to stimulate an immune response against MUC1 and activate the body’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.
In this study, Elisabeth Quoix from France’s Universite de Strasbourg, enrolled 148 patients, who had advanced NSCLC and whose tumours expressed MUC1 but had not received prior chemotherapy, from 23 centres across France, Poland, Germany, and Hungary. Patients were assigned to either TG4014 in combination with chemotherapy (74 patients; combination group) or only chemotherapy (74 patients; control group).
After six months, 43% of patients in the combination group were progression free as compared to 35% in the control group. Besides, tumour response was substantially higher in patients, who received the combination treatment, as compared to those who got only chemotherapy.
The TG4010 vaccine was largely well tolerated. The most common adverse events were anaemia, neutropenia (low white blood cell count) and thrombocytopenia (abnormally low number of blood platelets), and both groups experienced a similar number of these complications.

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