DNA vaccine fights leukemia

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Early results of a trial to treat leukemia with a WT1 DNA vaccine, have shown robust vaccine-specific antibody responses in all vaccinated patients evaluated to date. Furthermore, T cell immune responses, including those of the “killer T cells,” were detected. Antibody and T cell responses are strong signals of the DNA vaccine’s potential to treat the disease.

Presented at the DNA Vaccines 2012 conference in California by Christian Ottensmeier, the trial’s principal investigator and professor of experimental cancer research at the Univ. of Southampton, these interim results, from eight patients, are part of a phase II trial that will enroll 31 patients in its chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) arm.

To date, 14 CML patients have been enrolled while another 13 unvaccinated CML patients have been enrolled to serve as a control group. The vaccine has been shown to be safe overall and well-tolerated in the trial subjects. A detailed analysis of T cell immune responses as well as the impact of the vaccination on the molecular marker, BCR-ABL, which is a specific chromosomal abnormality that is associated with CML disease, will be performed during the trial.

As a result of the favorable safety and immunogenicity profiles observed in the CML vaccinated group, the trial is now open to enroll the acute myeloid leukemia (AML) clinical trial arm, with a total target of 37 subjects in each of the vaccinated and control groups.

Ottensmeier comments, “These preliminary data show strong vaccine-induced immune responses in vaccinated subjects in the CML arm. We are looking forward to enrolling and testing the vaccine’s impact in AML patients, who currently have limited treatment options and a low rate of progression free survival.”

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