A study looking at 2 vaccines after surgery for melanoma skin cancer

Cancer type:

Skin cancer




Phase 2

This study looked at 2 vaccines, to see if they helped stop melanoma coming back in people who are at high risk of this happening.

Doctors usually treat melanoma skin cancer with surgery.  This study looked at 2 vaccine treatments that may help to stop melanoma coming back after surgery.

Vaccines are a type of biological therapy called immunotherapy. They stimulate the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells.

The vaccines in this study both used a protein called NY-ESO-1. In one vaccine, the protein was combined with something called ISCOMATRIX, which can stimulate the immune system. In the other vaccine, the protein was combined with a virus (which had been altered so that it could not cause disease). The researchers hoped that using 2 vaccines may cause the immune system to respond more.

The aims of this study were to

  • Find out if these vaccines can cause an immune response Open a glossary item
  • Learn more about how safe they are and what the side effects are

Summary of results

This study showed that these vaccines can stimulate the immune system in some people.

This study recruited 39 people who’d had surgery for melanoma skin cancer.  They were put into one of 2 groups at random.

  • 18 people in group A had 3 doses of NY-ESO-1 with ISCOMATRIX, and then 3 doses of NY-ESO-1 with the modified virus
  • 21 people in group B had 6 doses of NY-ESO-1 with ISCOMATRIX

The research team took blood samples from each patient several times during treatment.

They looked at the number of white blood cells called T cells which are part of our immune system. They specifically looked at CD4 T cells and CD8 T cells. They also looked to see if other white blood cells called B cells made antibodies in response to the vaccine. An increase in the number of T cells or antibodies can show there has been an immune response.

They found that

  • Everyone in group A and group B had an increase in CD4 T cells, and produced antibodies against the vaccine
  • 3 out of 18 people in group B had a significant increase in CD8 T cells, and another 11 people had a small increase
  • They could identify small parts of the NY-ESO-1 protein that seem to trigger a stronger immune responses

The vaccines did have some side effects, although most were mild. The most common side effects were soreness and redness at the injection site, flu like symptoms and tiredness (fatigue).

These results show that the vaccines in this study can cause an immune response. The research team hope that the information they found out in this study will help researchers plan future studies.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the study. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Vincenzo Cerundulo

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 572

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Cara took part in a clinical trial

A picture of Cara

"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”

Last reviewed:

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