Vaccines Stimulating Immune System Produce Responses in Advanced Cervical and Ovarian Cancers

Vaccines designed to stimulate the immune system against several different biologic pathways associated with incurable cervical and ovarian cancers produced anti-cancer responses and was well tolerated among this group of patients. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Patients with advanced cervical and ovarian cancers who have stopped responding to standard therapies are typically considered incurable. However, the use of therapy that is able to stimulate the immune system to help fight cancer is being extensively studied to improve the duration of survival, coupled with the maintenance of quality of life for these patients.

Several different types of immune therapies are being developed, and often utilize ways in which to stimulate immune cells to identify and attack cancer cells in the body.

Researchers from Japan recently conducted some studies to evaluate the effectiveness of using a “cocktail” vaccine, in which the patient’s immune system was stimulated to identify several different markers commonly found on cancer cells.

The trials included 21 patients with cervical cancer, and 46 patients with ovarian cancer.  All patients had received extensive prior therapy and were considered incurable. The trial included 12 weekly injections.

  • Two patients demonstrated a complete disappearance of cancer.
  • The median overall survival was 15.4 months for patients with cervical cancer, and 8.8 months for patients with ovarian cancer.
  • Patients with ovarian cancer who had lower-levels of c-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood prior to starting therapy (lower than 2.0 mg/dl), had a median overall survival of 19 months, compared with only 3 months for those with higher CRP levels.
  • Patients who demonstrated high levels of skin sensitivity to the treatment experienced a significantly higher median survival, compared to those who did not demonstrate skin sensitivity to treatment. For patients with cervical cancer, median overall survival was 17.7 months for those who demonstrated high skin sensitivity, compared with only 1.4 months for those who did not demonstrate skin sensitivity. For patients with ovarian cancer, median overall survival was 21.2 months for those who demonstrated high skin sensitivity, compared with only 3.3 months for those who did not demonstrate skin sensitivity to treatment.

The researchers stated that these results suggest that these vaccines appeared to be “safe and effective even for incurable patients and they would be applicable for maintenance therapy for cervical and ovarian cancer.”

Reference: Takeuchi S, Shoji T, Kagabu M, et al. Phase 2 studies of multiple peptides cocktail vaccine for treatment-resistant cervical and ovarian cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2015; 33 (suppl; abstract 5567).