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March 28, 2018 - Personalized vaccine shows promise in ovarian cancer treatment, study shows


MOBILE, Alabama  (3/28/18) -- A group of ovarian cancer patients were able to tolerate, with limited side effects, a new personalized vaccine made from their own tumor cells, according to research led by an oncologist at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

During a clinical trial, 29 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer received Vigil® vaccine immunotherapy. Vigil® is a genetically engineered vaccine made from tumor cells acquired from each specific patient. The vaccine, produced by the biotech company Gradalis, aims to enhance the targeting of cancer by recognizing patient-specific antigens on their tumor cells.

Lead researcher Dr. Rodney Rocconi, chief of the Gynecologic Oncology Service at MCI, said the new technology is the quintessential definition of targeted therapy because it is personalized to each patient’s cancer cells.

“Unlike most other immune therapies, this vaccine stimulates the patient’s immune cells to recognize and attack the tumor specifically,” Rocconi said.

As part of the study, an ELISPOT (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot) test determines whether a patient’s T-cells would be activated toward the tumor. The test was shown to be predictive of both response and survival. Patients with T-cell activation showed a significant increase in survival of almost 54 months compared with 15 months for patients without T-cell activation. Fatigue was the only significant side effect, seen in one patient.

“As we dig further and further into the drivers of cancer, we should probably open the thought of being as specific as possible to an individual’s cancer cells in what we need to target for therapy,” said Rocconi, who presented the research at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer in New Orleans on March 26. Watch the post-presentation interview.

Rocconi also serves as associate director for Clinical Research at MCI, which offers more than 50 clinical trials for cancer patients.



USA Mitchell Cancer Institute is the only academic cancer research and treatment facility on the upper Gulf Coast corridor, with offices in Mobile, Fairhope and Monroeville.

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