Posted By RichC on June 5, 2011
Postive advancements for those of us baby-boomers who may spend too much time in the sun.
For patients with advanced melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, a vaccine combined with an immune-boosting drug is showing promise in a large clinical trial.
Therapeutic cancer vaccines, unlike typical vaccines that prevent infections, are meant to jump-start the immune system to help it battle existing tumors.
In this Phase 3 clinical trial, conducted at 21 care centers, researchers randomly assigned 185 patients with metastatic melanoma, meaning the cancer had spread, to either the vaccine followed by interleukin-2, a drug that activates the immune system, or interleukin-2 alone.
Those given the vaccine-drug combo showed more improvement than those given the drug alone, according to the study, which was published in the June 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
About 16% of those given the vaccine/interleukin-2 combination saw their tumors shrink by 50% or more, compared to 6% given interleukin-2 alone.