Personalized Cancer "Vaccine" Passes Major Hurdle

Numerous drug companies are developing cancer immunotherapy treatments, but these one-size-fits-all treatments are limited because of cancer's ability to mutate. While treatments may work in some patients, the drugs may be of little help for others, because the particular protein a given drug targets may no longer exist, due to mutations. In response to this issue, researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Los Angeles are testing individualized treatments based on a patient's own tumor, according to a report this week in Technology Review. The researchers have completed a study with 21 kidney cancer patients, and about half lived two and a half years after being diagnosed with kidney cancer that had begun to spread, according to the report. These promising findings have prompted continued research. Jeff Abbey, CEO of Argos Therapeutics, the Durham, North Carolina, biotech that developed the kidney cancer treatment, commented on the treatment in an interview with Technology Review, saying, "We think that the only way to win is to do an active specific immunotherapy that captures all the mutations." The next hurdle for the study will be the completion of an ongoing 450-patient, randomized study. For more on this research, see the report in Technology Review. You can also visit the Argos Therapeutics site here.

What will be the next step in advancing immunotherapy?