Promising new therapy for ovarian cancer

The team at CHUV, a teaching hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, together with North American colleagues, has developed a new therapy against ovarian cancer. This personalized treatment, combined with chemotherapy, can stabilize the disease for months or years.

Advanced  stage ovarian cancer  gives its victims little chance. Most have a relapse within two years and die within five years, indicated Wednesday (17/04) the Center Hospitalar Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in a statement.

Head of the Oncology Department at CHUV since last year, Dr. George Coukos is one of the world’s experts on ovarian cancer. With a team from the University of Pennsylvania (USA), where he has worked, he developed a vaccine derived from the patient’s own dendritic cells and a two-stage immunotherapy, which proved to be effective in three quarters of the women who could benefit from it.

In a group of 31 women, the vaccine only helped to stabilize or at least slow down disease progression in 20 patients. In a subgroup, 11 women were tested in addition to a second round of treatment and 8 of these women were seen to shrink or at least stabilize their tumors.

well tolerated vaccine

Dendritic cells are immune system cells capable of identifying potential enemies and transmitting this information to T lymphocytes that can eliminate them.

With his colleague Lana Kandalaft, Prof. Coukos can keep tumor cells alive in patients after surgery and isolate dendritic cells. These cells were exposed to tumor antigens and then reinjected into patients’ lymph nodes over a three-month period and in combination with a drug used in chemotherapy.

Well tolerated, this new vaccine can elicit an adequate T-cell response against multiple disease antigens. In the second stage of treatment, the researchers removed the T cells to reinject into the body of patients after they had been stimulated and grown in the laboratory to boost the immune response against the tumor.

complete remission

A successful experiment, as the lymphocytes had been “educated” by the dendritic cells to attack the tumor cells.

Of the 11 participants in the second stage of treatment, capable of further expanding the immune response against the target of certain antigens, seven had their disease stabilized. For one participant one could even speak of complete remission.

In the fight against cancer, vaccines capable of educating the immune system will play a key role, estimates Prof. Coukos, quoted in the statement. Such an approach, combined with chemotherapy, can override certain key mechanisms used by cancer to spread through the body. This work was partially published in the journal “OncoImmunology”.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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