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Cancer News Article

Survival of Stage IIIB NSCLC Improved with L-BLP25 Vaccine

Researchers from Canada and England have reported an improved survival of patients with stage IIIB and IV non-small cell lung cancer with vaccination to MUC1 protein with L-BLP25 vaccine. The results of this randomized trial were reported at the 2004 meeting of the European Society of Clinical Oncology, October 29-Novermer 2 in Vienna, Austria.

L-BlP25 is a glycoprotein vaccine from Biomira that consists of 25 amino acids to form a lipopeptide. This vaccine reacts against MUC1, which is over-expressed and aberrantly glycosylated in NSCLC. The vaccine is administered with a lipid adjuvant. In this study, 171 patients with responding or stable stage IIIB or IV NSCLC to first-line therapy were randomly allocated to receive vaccine or best supportive care (BSC). They reported that 21% had an immunological response to the vaccine, but this did not predict survival. The vaccine was well tolerated, except for skin rashes and flu-like symptoms. Table 1 summarizes the major finding of this clinical trial.

Table 1: Vaccine vs. No Vaccine in Stages IIIB and IV NSCLC


No Vaccine

Median Survival (all patients)

17.4 months

13 months

Median Survival (Stage IIIB)

Not reached

13.3 months

This study showed a survival advantage for patients with stage IIIB but not stage IV disease. It was also reported that all patients had a better quality of life in the vaccine group.

Comments: This study is one of the few positive vaccine trials reported. This data will need to be confirmed in a larger phase III study. The most interesting group to test the vaccine on would be those with stage I and II NSCLC who have less residual disease but a high likelihood of relapse.

Reference: Butts CA, Marshall E, Murray NR, et al. A multicenter phase IIB randomized study of liposomal MUC1 vaccine for immunotherapy of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); L-BLP25 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Study Group. Presented at the 2004 meeting of the European Society of Clinical Oncology. Annals of Oncology. 2004;15, supplement 3:iii2, abstract number 3IN.

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