Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A trial of vaccine treatment for advanced melanoma
This trial was looking at an anti cancer vaccine for melanoma skin cancer made with your own blood cells and gene therapy.
Doctors sometimes use surgery to remove advanced melanoma, but this does not get rid of the disease completely. Researchers are trying to find treatments to stop melanoma coming back or to try and stop the growth of melanoma. One new treatment is an anti cancer vaccine made from your own blood using gene therapy.
There are cells in your blood called dendritic cells. Their job is to help other cells in the immune system to recognise cells that are foreign to the body (such as bacteria and viruses). By altering the genes inside some of your dendritic cells, the researchers hope to make immune system cells called T cells recognise melanoma cells as foreign.
To make the vaccine, the researchers take some dendritic cells from a sample of your blood. They grow more of these cells in the laboratory and then alter the genes inside them (gene therapy) so that they can make proteins usually made by melanoma cells. They then inject these altered dendritic cells back into your skin as a vaccine. The researchers hoped that the dendritic cells would use their new proteins to help T cells recognise melanoma cells and kill them.
The aim of this study was to find out if this vaccine treatment
- Stimulated the immune system
- Shrunk the melanoma
- Caused side effects
Summary of results
The researchers found that the vaccine did not cause bad side effects, but the melanoma shrunk in only a small number of people.
24 people had treatment as part of this trial. The researchers had results for 22 of them
- In 17 people, the melanoma got bigger during treatment
- In 2 people, the melanoma stayed the same size – researchers call this
- In 2 people, the melanoma got smaller – researchers call this
- In 1 person, a CT scan showed that a
secondary cancerin the lung had got smaller but there was a new tumour on the skin
Half the people taking part had fu like symptoms and most people had a drop in the number of red blood cells (
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (
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.
Dr Neil Steven
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University of Birmingham