US researchers bring new hope to the Patients fighting with Liver Cancer

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Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and its Convergence Institute reveal promising results of personalised vaccine for liver cancer.

Liver cancer is one of the life-threatening illnesses and fastest-growing cancer types in the United States. Since there are no symptoms in the early stages of cancer, it is often diagnosed late when cancer has majorly affected the healthy cells in the liver. Its symptoms are similar to Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (IHC), like a lump below your rib cage or pain near your right shoulder, jaundice, unexplained weight loss, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and dark-coloured urine.

Researchers are trying hard to develop a vaccine against this cancer. According to the reports, Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and its Convergence Institute have unveiled promising findings regarding a personalised vaccine for liver cancer through a clinical trial. 

The study outcomes have been disclosed in Nature Medicine and presented at the annual American Association for Cancer Research meeting. The study sheds light on the efficacy of a tailored vaccine for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most prevalent form of liver cancer. 

This study analysed tumour biopsy specimens from 36 HCC patients to identify cancer-associated genetic mutations. These specimens were further utilised to fabricate a personalised vaccine incorporating DNA sequences corresponding to selected mutated genes.

Involving a cohort of 36 HCC patients, investigators augmented the standard immunotherapy regimen of Merck & Co’s PD-1 inhibitor therapy, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), with the personalised anti-tumor vaccine.

The personalised vaccine operates by facilitating the immune system to recognise the aberrant proteins encoded by the selected genes, thereby triggering the destruction of cells producing them.

Sponsored by Geneos Therapeutics, the preliminary results from the clinical trial indicated that nearly one-third of patients treated with the combination therapy experienced a significant tumour regression, approximately twice the rate observed in HCC patients who solely received anti-PD-1 therapy in independent studies.

Furthermore, approximately 8% of patients achieved a complete response, characterised by the absence of detectable tumour post-combination treatment, with no reported severe adverse events.

Integrating the personalised vaccine with the PD-1 inhibitor rejuvenates T-cells within the tumour, empowering them to target the specific mutant proteins.

Mark Yarchoan, Associate Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, remarked, “The significance of personalised cancer vaccines is burgeoning,” underscoring that the study provides compelling evidence that such vaccines can augment clinical responses to anti-PD-1 therapy.

Yarchoan emphasised the necessity for a larger randomised clinical trial to corroborate these findings, affirming their potential to revolutionise liver cancer treatment.

Pharma Utility

Pharma Utility

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