Lymphoma vaccine extends survival in late-stage study

In a study published in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center say a Phase III trial of the therapeutic vaccine BioVaxID for follicular lymphoma increased disease-free survival by 14 months. The study included 234 patients whose disease went into remission following chemotherapy. Those who received BioVaxID experienced a median time to relapse of 44.2 months, as compared to just 30.6 months in patients who didn't get the vaccine. Additionally, researchers found that patients with a certain biological marker survived almost 53 months before relapse. Another study is necessary to confirm these findings.

"The study continues to show that the vaccine increases the usual time until relapse for follicular lymphoma by about 14 months. That's significant because most cancer drugs are approved on the basis of extending survival only a few months," said Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., corresponding author of the study.

BioVaxID is made by taking proteins from each patient's tumor and combining them with a delivery agent and a growth factor, according to a release on the findings. The vaccine is then injected back into the patients. "It's the ultimate in personalized therapy," notes Kwak. "Even if two patients have the same type of lymphoma, their tumors will still have different proteins." Partner Biovest plans to pursue FDA approval for the treatment.

Follicular lymphoma makes up 22 percent of all non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cases. Kwak says these results support further trials in other cancers as well as other types of lymphoma.

- check out the release