A trial of vaccine treatment for advanced melanoma

Cancer type:

Skin cancer




Phase 1

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 stable disease Open a glossary item
  • In 2 people, the melanoma got smaller – researchers call this partial response Open a glossary item
  • In 1 person, a CT scan showed that a secondary cancer Open a glossary item in 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 (anaemia Open a glossary item). Other side effects included skin changes, and redness or pain at the injection site, but these effects were not severe.

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 (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) or published in a medical journal yet. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial 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

Dr Neil Steven

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Moulton Trust
University of Birmingham

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 342

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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