Personalised Cancer Vaccines for Mesothelioma
Posted 26th September 2018 by Jane Williams
Immunotherapy continues to gain popularity in several areas related to cancer research and new treatments. Studies prove that each and every cancer case is unique, so the need for personalised medicine presents a logical focus. Personalised cancer vaccines are one form of cancer immunotherapy. The vaccines are a form of precision medicine, which has become an increasingly more enticing area for treatment research.
What Are Personalised Cancer Vaccines?
Personalised cancer vaccines are completely unique treatments for each individual patient. Even patients with the same classification of cancer will have tumours with unique molecular makeups. The uniqueness of these custom-tailored treatments are an appealing and potentially more efficient healing innovation.
For this treatment, doctors biopsy a patient’s tumour to sequence the DNA for comparison against similar sequences of non-affected, healthy cells. Studying cell composition on an individual level is key to the success of this treatment. It is highly unlikely for treatments to be the same among two cancer patients.
Studying Personalised Cancer Vaccines
Personalised vaccines (dendritic cell vaccination) have been able to successfully treat melanoma patients. The development here is promising for mesothelioma patients since melanoma and mesothelioma have been found to be genetically similar. Researchers have noted these treatments can produce flu-like side effects, but treatments were an overall success.
Researchers have also tested dendritic cell vaccination in combination with chemotherapy to determine if the vaccine could be more effective when paired with more traditional treatments. In this particular study, cancer immunologists tested the cell vaccination with a low dose of the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide on ten patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Researchers found the treatment to be both safe and effective, with only a mild fever reported in some patients. Seven of the patients achieved survival of 24 months or longer, longer than the average mesothelioma survival rate. Two of the patients were still alive after even 50 and 66 months.
Although this study included a small sample of patients, the results suggest it could lead to a larger clinical trial in the future.
The Future of Precision Medicine for Cancer Patients
Immunotherapy is an increasingly important aspect of cancer research. With more professionals specifically focused on improving immunotherapy for all kinds of cancer, this emerging treatment will only become more effective with continued studies, proofs, and developments.
Molecular testing has become more of a standard for cancer treatments, this step qualifies patients for these personalised treatments like cancer vaccines. Many people believe precision, or personalised, medicine is the path to finding the cure for cancer. As precision medicine continues to mature, it will help providers tailor treatments for individual patients and their specific cases.
How Precision Medicine Could Lead to a Mesothelioma Cure
Today, the 26th September, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. This rare cancer is responsible for an estimated 43,000 deaths each year, globally. The highest rates of mesothelioma are reported in Australia, Belgium, and Great Britain, with an average of 30 cases per million people. Asbestos is currently banned in 60 countries, although some of these bans are partial and allow for limited exceptions. However, most are complete bans that do not allow the importation or manufacture of the proven to be dangerous mineral, asbestos.
Patients with more common cancers like breast, lung, or colorectal cancer, as well as some leukemias, have already begun to experience the benefits of precision medicine. This has changed the landscape of treatment, making it routine now for patients with these diagnoses to undergo individualised molecular testing to gauge the compatibility to receive these specialised treatments.
But what about less common diseases like mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is treated like other cancers where techniques in precision medicine are being used to identify the human genome composition. Studying these “tumour profiles,” enhances the credibility and effectiveness for future treatments of mesothelioma.
To help advocate for a global ban on asbestos and for other asbestos awareness events visit the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation.
The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is an organisation dedicated to raising awareness for mesothelioma, educating on the dangers of asbestos exposure and supporting those affected by this rare cancer.
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