A trial looking at a vaccine to prevent shingles in people with solid tumours having chemotherapy

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We know that this is an especially worrying time for people with cancer and their family and friends. We have separate information about coronavirus and cancer. Please read that information alongside this page. We will update that information as guidance changes.

Read about coronavirus and cancer

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

Cancer type:

All cancer types




Phase 2/3

This trial is looking at a new vaccine called HZ/su to prevent shingles Open a glossary item in people having chemotherapy to treat any cancer apart from a blood cancer (a solid tumour Open a glossary item).  

Doctors often use chemotherapy to treat people with cancer. A side effect of chemotherapy is a drop in blood cells. The white blood cells are a 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 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.

The aims of this trial are to find out

  • How good the immune response to the HZ/su vaccine is for people with solid tumours having chemotherapy
  • How safe the vaccine is for these people

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this trial if you

  • Have any cancer apart from leukaemia Open a glossary item, lymphoma Open a glossary item or myeloma Open a glossary item
  • Are to have a course of chemotherapy that causes a drop in blood cells
  • 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

  • Have 20 mg or more of daily steroid tablets within a month before having the vaccine
  • Are having any anti cancer drugs, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), that doesn’t cause a drop in white blood cells – if you are having it with chemotherapy you may be able to take part
  • 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
  • Finished a course of chemotherapy up to a month before having the HZ/su vaccine
  • Have had chicken pox (varicella virus) 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 a phase 2/3 trial. It will recruit 210 people. 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.

The 4 groups in this trial are

  • HZ/su vaccine before starting chemotherapy
  • Dummy drug (placebo) before starting chemotherapy
  • HZ/su vaccine during chemotherapy
  • Dummy drug during chemotherapy

Vaccine to prevent shingles in people with solid tumours having chemotherapy trial diagram

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

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

For some people having the vaccine or dummy drug before chemotherapy 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
  • At the start of your last cycle of chemotherapy
  • A year after your 2nd injection

About 4 months after your 2nd injection a member of the study team will call you to see how you are. They will call you again 4 months later.

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 Hartmut Kristeleit

Supported by

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 10190

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:

Rate this page:

No votes yet
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think