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The lung cancer vaccine


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Vaccine for lung cancer

6/15/2006 1:04 PM

By: Ivanhoe Broadcast News

The lung cancer vaccine

About 170,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of those people smoke. Only 15 percent will be cured. The rest will be given less than a year to live.

The symptoms of lung cancer include: a cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time; constant chest pain; coughing up blood; shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness; repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis; loss of appetite or weight loss and fatigue.

Treatment depends on a number of factors, including the type of lung cancer (non-small or small cell lung cancer), the size, location, and extent of the tumor and the general health of the patient. Many different treatments and combinations of treatments may be used to control lung cancer or to improve quality of life by reducing symptoms. Treatments include surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and photodynamic therapy.

Beginning in 1999, an experimental vaccine for lung cancer was tested at the University of Miami in 19 patients, all of whom were out of options. Six responded and survived for several years. Four are still alive, having had no other treatment for this deadly disease. Now, 70 new patients will get a chance to try the vaccine.

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Lung cancer vaccine

A new trial of a lung cancer vaccine will soon get under way.

Dr. Luis E. Raez, co-chair of the Thoracic Oncology Group at the University of Miami, was awarded a three-year, $300,000 Clinical Innovator Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute. The money will fund two new phase II clinical trials possible.

In one, patients who are not eligible for surgery but who respond well to chemotherapy will be treated with the vaccine.

"Within four months," Raez said, "Fifty percent of those patients with good outcomes from the chemo would relapse." The hope is the vaccine will delay or prevent that relapse.

The second group will be made up of patients who have had their tumors surgically removed.

"Naturally, that's a better setting for a vaccination," Dr. Eckhard R. Podack, chairman of Microbiology and Immunology, said. He devised the vaccine. "When there is minimal disease or no detectable disease, the immune system will respond much better."

Making enough of the vaccine, greatly taxes the resources of Podack's lab. It's a job that would be eased by an automated culture system, something the lab can't afford. But the work goes on. Podack and Raez are also about to begin a phase I trial on a different lung cancer vaccine called gp96.

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