An immune-based vaccine created by researchers at Buffalo, New York’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is now moving to its third study. The new clinical trial will evaluate whether SurVaxM — a cancer vaccine that promotes immune response to the survivin molecule, a critical protein believed to maintain the viability of tumor cells — is effective and safe for the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM).
In the new clinical trial, SurVaxm will be examined in combination with Revlimid (lenalidomide) as a maintenance treatment option for adults with multiple myeloma.
“Almost all patients with multiple myeloma who go into remission will still have microscopic amounts of disease left following treatment, and this residual cancer eventually can grow back and cause a relapse. It’s a problem compounded by the fact that these patients eventually become resistant to current therapies,” Kelvin Lee, MD, Jacobs Family Chair of Immunology, who is leading the Phase 1 clinical trial, said in a news release.
“But, in combination with oral lenalidomide, which exhibits both immune-modifying and tumoricidal effects, we believe that this vaccine may trigger antimyeloma immune responses, which may prevent recurrences and eradicate the disease,” Lee said.
Robert Fenstermaker, MD, chair of neurosurgery, and Michael Ciesielski, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, developed the SurVaxm vaccine at the Roswell Park faculty.
In studies with pre-clinical models of brain, ovarian, renal, and prostate cancers, SurVaxm has shown to prolong survival.
In a recently completed Phase 1 trial in patients with recurrent glioma, the vaccine was found to be well-tolerated and safe. A Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma is now ongoing at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Roswell Park, and the Cleveland Clinic.
“Vaccines are typically thought of as things to prevent diseases like measles, polio, and mumps. But vaccines are a form of immunotherapy that can also be used to treat cancer. They can be used in a therapeutic mode, rather than a preventive mode,” Fenstermaker said. “And cancer vaccines, in general, tend to have few serious side effects.”
“We are the first team to test this approach as a therapy for multiple myeloma, and it’s very exciting,” added Lee, who notes that the study will be conducted in adults whose disease is in remission following completion of standard therapy for multiple myeloma. “The primary purpose of this study is to determine whether this therapy is safe, but our investigations will also allow us to explore new ways of stimulating the immune system to fight cancer cells.”
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