From the blog

A Cancer Vaccine Could Potentially Help Mesothelioma Patients

Published: April 1, 2022

Researchers are looking at a vaccine to maintain patient health after cancer treatment, which could be effective for mesothelioma in the future.  The vaccine is specifically made for each patient based on the individual’s biology. The trial is currently being tested on head and neck cancer. It does not usually take long for mesothelioma to recur after treatment, so this vaccine is a new tool in a doctor’s arsenal to slow the growth of the cancer. The cancer spreads very quickly so any treatment for mesothelioma that slows its growth is good for patients.

The vaccine is known as TG4050 and is in a phase I clinical trial in the United Kingdom, France, and Florida. The trial can accommodate up to 30 patients and has already started with the first patient. The vaccine is given to patients under their skin once a week for three weeks to start. The vaccine is then given every three weeks for up to two years. Two groups of patients are being studied. The first group is made up of patients receiving the treatment after their initial treatment ends while the second group receives the vaccine after cancer recurrence.

Cancer vaccines fall under the umbrella of immunotherapy. They help the immune system see and then fight cancer cells. The vaccines specifically help the body look for the growth or regrowth of cancer cells in the body.  This is helpful because cancer cells can go undetected since they are mutated cells. The vaccine helps stop the spread of cancer long enough for it to die naturally in the cellular cycle. This vaccine is different from typical allogenic vaccines, which are vaccines made in batches that target DNA in specific cells. These vaccines can be helpful for quickly treating a large group of people but might not be helpful for certain cancers with specific antigens. The vaccine being tested is autologous, meaning it is made for one specific patient based on their DNA. The process of making the vaccine takes longer, but it is more effective because it is personalized to an individual patient’s tumor microenvironment.

Cancer recurrence is the return of cancer after it has been successfully treated. This happens a lot for solid tumor cancers like mesothelioma. Cancer recurrence usually happens much more often in mesothelioma than other cancers because mesothelioma is usually made up of many little solid tumors instead of one large tumor. It is quite hard to remove all the tumors and many of them might not be visible, preventing doctors from seeing and removing them. The tumors that were undetected could start growing and spreading weeks after the treatment regimen ends. If the vaccine is successful in its first trial, it could possibly be tailored to mesothelioma and could prevent recurrence in patients.

“A Clinical Trial Evaluating TG4050 in Head and Neck Cancer” (Updated November 8, 2021). [Link]
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