February 5, 2023

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Cancer Research Center found that combining immunotherapy with a personalized anti-tumor vaccine increased tumor shrinkage compared to immunotherapy alone.

Liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer. One of the newest treatments for HCC is immunotherapy, a treatment that uses the individual’s immune system to fight cancer. immunotherapy. However, studies show that only 15-20% of HCC diagnoses respond to immunotherapy. Now, the results of a preliminary clinical trial show that people with HCC treated with immunotherapy and a personalized anti-tumor vaccine compared to people who Those receiving only immunotherapy were twice as likely to experience tumor shrinkage

This vaccine is individually personalized for each patient.

To make a personalized vaccine, first a tumor sample is taken and the tumor DNA is sequenced to identify the unique antigens of each tumor. A specific vaccine is then made that encodes the unique antigens identified in the analysis of the tumor biopsy.

This vaccine was used together with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab.

Vaccines have the ability to exhaust immune cells before they kill cancer cells. For this reason, current cancer vaccines are often combined with other immune-stimulating therapies such as pembrolizumab. This treatment prevents the exhaustion of T cells caused by the vaccine

36 participants were selected for this clinical trial. All participants received a combination of vaccine and pembrolizumab. In the end, it was found that about a third of the participants experienced tumor shrinkage, which is almost twice the number seen in studies of immunotherapy alone for HCC. Additionally, about 8 percent of study participants experienced tumor shrinkage after receiving treatment. Combined, they had no evidence of tumor.