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Leukemia & Lymphoma

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Vaccine May Help Fight Lymphoma

Vaccine Made From Patient's Own Tumor Cells Teaches Immune System to Fight Cancer

Most Patients Haven't Relapsed continued...

The average time to a second relapse among follicular lymphomalymphoma patients treated with chemotherapy alone is 13 months.

The average time to relapse in this study has not been reached yet, but is already over 33 months among the 20 patients who responded to the vaccine.

Nineteen of those responding patients had not relapsed at the time the study was published. Three have remained relapse-free for more than four years.

Also, most of the responding patients saw second remissions that were longer than their first. Conversely, second remissions were shorter than the first remissions for the five participants who did not respond to the vaccine, which would normally be the case.

Characterizing the findings from the vaccine study as "persuasive", longtime lymphoma researcher Dan Longo, MD, of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, adds that there are many unanswered questions about the treatment.

First and foremost is whether the vaccination strategy will complement or interfere with the biologic drug Rituxan (rituximab), which works in a similar way by enlisting the immune system to fight cancercancer.

Rituximab along with chemotherapy is now considered a standard therapy for the treatment of aggressive lymphomas.

"If the observed remissions remain durable, the stage seems set for a head-to-head comparison between rituximab and [the targeted] vaccination as post-remission therapy in patients who achieve an initial chemotherapy-induced complete remission," Longo wrote in an editorial accompanying the study.

"If that comparison reveals a clear winner based on a disease-free survival endpoint, it may be time to consider putting in the effort to conduct a major study assessing overall survival," Longo said.

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