Promise and Progress - 4 Vaccines
Issue No. I
Date: March 1, 2011
Our researchers’ pioneering work in cancer immunology, to successfully alert an otherwise oblivious immune system to the presence of cancer cells has lead to the development of therapeutic vaccines for pancreas, breast, prostate, and kidney cancers, and more recently for leukemia.
Vaccine Clears Out Leukemia Cells
A newly-developed leukemia vaccine appears to get rid of cancer cells left behind after treatment with the drug Gleevec. While the findings are preliminary, the investigators are optimistic that the vaccine could improve treatment outcomes and reduce toxic side effects for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Researcher Hyam Levitsky, M.D., says most patients with CML will need to remain on Gleevec therapy for the rest of their lives to remain cancer free, but about 10 to 15 percent of patients cannot tolerate the drug long term. He and collaborator B. Douglas Smith, M.D., believe the vaccine could get patients off lifelong Gleevec therapy.