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Vaccine slows lymphoma cancer

Results of a trial of patients with follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma show BiovaxID postponed a relapse by more than a year

In a trial of 117 patients with follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, 76 of whom were given the vaccine (dubbed BiovaxID), results show that it postponed a relapse by more than a year.

The findings of the research, which was carried out at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, have been announced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and are part of a larger Phase 111 trial.

"With this vaccine, we've now moved into an era where we can safely use a patient's immune system to effectively fight follicular lymphoma and enhance the response to conventional chemotherapy," said Stephen J. Schuster, MD, Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the study's lead author.

"Because this vaccine uniquely recruits the patient's immune system to seek and destroy only tumour B-cells, this approach may be applicable to the treatment of other B-cell lymphomas."

Biovest (a majority-owned subsidiary of Accentia Biopharmaceuticals), who produce the vaccine, plan further studies to examine the role of BiovaxID in patients with other B-cell lymphomas, such as mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma.

In addition, new lymphoma studies will evaluate the addition of BiovaxID booster maintenance therapy, which is expected to improve further survival benefits by maximising the chance of continuously maintaining complete remissions.

The cancer vaccine, which uses a tissue biopsy obtained from a patient's own tumour, evokes the power of each patient's immune system and primes it to recognise and eliminate cancerous lymphoma cells, while sparing normal B-cells.

Over 9,700 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK every year, with the figure close to 65,000 in the US. There are over 20 different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma; ranging from low-grade forms to the more active lymphomas.

1st June 2009

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