New Skin Cancer Vaccine: Exciting Medical Breakthrough

May 31, 2009

(ChattahBox)—In what is being hailed as a groundbreaking medical discovery in the search for a cure for cancer, scientists from the National Cancer Institute have developed a promising new skin cancer vaccine. The new vaccine is named gp 100:209-217 or gp 100. Remember that name, you will no doubt be hearing about it again very soon.

The results of the clinical trials using the new vaccine were excitedly presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Orlando, Florida. GP 100 was shown to help shrink tumors and delay the progression of skin cancer.

Scientists have been trying unsuccessfully, for decades, to develop a skin cancer vaccine and now that dry spell in skin cancer research is about to come to an abrupt halt, with the promising results of GP 100.

This was the first study that proved “proof-of-principle” for a vaccine in treating melanoma and cancer overall.

The researchers treated patients with the vaccine in addition to the cancer drug, interleukin-2 and another group was given interleukin-2 alone. The results were extremely promising. Approximately 22 percent of patients treated with the vaccine in combination with interleukin-2 showed shrinkage in their tumors by at least half compared with 10 percent of the clinical patients receiving interleukin-2 alone.

Additionally, patients treated with both the vaccine and interleukin-2 showed a distinct stabilization of their cancer for three months versus half that time for patients treated without the vaccine.

More studies are needed to further refine GP 100. Vaccines in general, work by training the body’s immune system to distinguish diseased cells and attack them. GP 100 could someday trigger a patient’s immune system to systematically kill off the skin cancer cells before they have a chance to spread further.

The current survival rate for metastatic melanoma is only 16 percent. Even if a vaccine would allow a patient suffering from deadly melanoma a few additional months or years of life, this would be great news for the nearly 8,600 people who lose their lives to the disease every year.

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Comments

3 Responses to “New Skin Cancer Vaccine: Exciting Medical Breakthrough”

  1. Fred Moolten on May 31st, 2009 3:30 pm

    These reports show encouraging progress in adding immunotherapy to other forms of cancer treatment. The headline is unfortunate, however, in using the word “breakthrough”, for several reasons. First, the benefits were modest, entailing retarded cancer growth but not cancer eradication. Second, previous work has also demonstrated benefit from immunotherapy. Third, and most important, the word “breakthrough” inspires false expectations in cancer patients and their families. Although the word is an attention-grabber, it should be reserved for future achievements that build on what has already been accomplished.

  2. Nimrod on May 31st, 2009 6:24 pm

    Cancer vaccine? Does the movie I Am Legend ring a bell?

  3. New Skin Cancer Vaccine: Exciting Medical Breakthrough … on May 31st, 2009 7:53 pm

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