A trial looking at a vaccine to prevent shingles in people with blood cancers

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Blood cancers




Phase 3

This trial is looking at a new vaccine called HZ/su to prevent shingles in people who are having, or have had treatment for blood cancers, such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Doctors can use chemotherapy or immunotherapy Open a glossary item to treat people with leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. A side effect of these treatments can be a drop in blood cells. The white blood cells are part of the body’s immune system that fights infections. A drop in white blood cells can increase your risk of getting an infection.

Shingles Open a glossary item is a virus that affects the nerves and can travel along the nerve to the skin, causing a painful rash. Because of their low levels of white blood cells people having chemotherapy are at a greater risk of developing shingles. The HZ/su vaccine may help these people.  

The vaccine consists of an inactive part of the virus that causes shingles with a substance that helps the body strengthen its defence against shingles. We know from research that the vaccine can help the body’s immune system make antibodies against shingles. This is called an immune response Open a glossary item.

In this trial the researchers will compare people who have the HZ/su vaccine with people who have a dummy drug (placebo Open a glossary item) to find out

  • Whether the vaccine produces expected side effects
  • How safe the vaccine is

They will also look at how good the immune response to the vaccine is for people with certain types of blood cancer.

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this trial if you

  • Have a blood cancer, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma
  • Are having or have had chemotherapy or immunotherapy
  • Are willing to use reliable contraception for a month before having the vaccine, while having the vaccine and for 2 months afterwards if there is any chance you could become pregnant
  • Are at least 18 years old

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Are taking only tablets to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – if you are having treatment through a drip (intravenous infusion Open a glossary item) as well as tablets you may be able to take part
  • Are having radiotherapy only
  • Are to have a stem cell transplant
  • Have had a stem cell transplant in the 7 weeks before starting treatment in this trial
  • Have had a vaccination against herpes zoster virus or chicken pox (varicella virus) in the past year
  • Plan to have a vaccination against herpes zoster or chicken pox in the near future
  • Have had an experimental drug as part of a clinical trial in the past month
  • Have had chicken pox or herpes zoster virus infection in the past year
  • Are allergic to the HZ/su vaccine or any of its ingredients
  • Have a live vaccine Open a glossary item up to a month before starting the HZ/su vaccine
  • Have a non live vaccine 8 days before starting the HZ/su vaccine and 2 weeks after having the HZ/su vaccine
  • Are HIV positive
  • Have a fever or any other medical condition that could affect you taking part in this trial
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

Trial design

This is an international phase 3 trial. It will recruit 552 people from different countries around the world. It is a randomised trial. The people taking part are put into treatment groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to decide which group you are in.

Half the people recruited will have the HZ/su vaccine and the other half will have a dummy drug (placebo).

A vaccine to prevent shingles in people with blood cancers trial diagram

You have 2 injections of the vaccine or dummy drug. You have them as an injection into the muscle of your arm. Each injection is about a month apart.

The researchers will take blood samples before each injection, a month after the 2nd injection then a year after your 2nd injection. This is to see how your immune system responds to the injections.

For some people the researchers will take some extra blood samples. This is for a different type of test to see how your immune system responds. Your doctor will tell you if you are one of these people.

Each time you have an injection the researchers will give you a diary card to fill in. This is to record any side effects you may have from the injection. The team will tell you how and when to fill it in.

Hospital visits

You see the doctor for a physical examination before taking part in this trial.

You then see the doctor

  • About 1 month after each injection
  • A year after your 2nd injection

About 6 months after your 2nd injection a member of the study team will call you to see how you are.

Side effects

The most common side effects of the HZ/su vaccine are

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Feeling or being sick (nausea)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tummy (abdominal) pain

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 Andy Peniket

Supported by

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 10959

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

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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