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New Lung Cancer Treatment Shows Great Promise


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New Lung Cancer Treatment Shows Great Promise

Injection Kills Disease In Some Patients

DALLAS -- Researchers at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas are testing a lung cancer vaccine that has proved effective in fighting the disease.

According to doctors, it is too early to call the treatment a cure, but people who once had only months to live say it has given them their lives back.

Waxahachie, Texas, resident Connie West is walking proof of what the promising vaccine can do.

Three years ago, West was battling aggressive lung cancer.

"It was stage-four lung cancer, and it was not good," she said.

However, West is fee of cancer today after participating in the Baylor trial.

As part of the trial, doctors at Baylor remove part of the patient's tumor, and then use it to develop an injection that includes a gene enabling the body to identify the cancer.

"In a number of the patients we've treated, the immune system is almost like a PacMan. It comes to the cancer once it finds a way to identify the cancer and kills the cancer cells," Dr. John Nemunaitis said.

For three of the patients injected up to six times with the vaccine, results were definitive.

"Soon after the injections, all my tumors shrank and went away," West said.

However, doctors said the majority of patients don't experience full remission.

Further trials are under way to improve effectiveness in more patients by adjusting the concentration of the vaccine formula and its delivery system.

Although West will not be considered free of cancer for two more years, she is optimistic.

"Each checkup that I've had and each checkup again has been clear," she said.

So far, about 100 people have gone through the vaccinations in Dallas, one of six cities participating in the research.

If you're interested in participating, please follow the link below.

On The Net: Gene-Modified Autologous Tumor Vaccine

For information on other lung cancer trials, please follow the link below.

On The Net: Open Lung Cancer Trials

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Here is another article on the same study:

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascit ... 990896.htm

Lung cancer vaccine shows promise


Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram

DALLAS - For Connie West, who was diagnosed in 1999 with lung cancer, an experimental vaccine is nothing short of a miracle.

"I had cancer in both lungs, and it just gradually went away," said West, who began taking the vaccine in 2001. "I had a scan last week, and there's no sign of cancer in my body. It's almost unbelievable."

While the vaccine, developed by researchers at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, won't cure all patients, it is helping others live longer than expected with no signs of the disease.

The vaccine uses cancer cells obtained from the patient's tumor to activate the immune system. In the trial, 43 patients with early and advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer were treated with the vaccine. Half of the patients responded to the treatment.

For about 10 percent, the remission lasted more than eight months, and some patients have been cancer-free for three years, said Dr. John Nemunaitis, oncologist and researcher at the Mary Crowley Medical Research Center at Baylor.

People with non-small cell lung cancer typically survive four to six months.

"It's really a significant glimmer of hope," said Nemunaitis, principal investigator of the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the study, three patients with advanced-stage lung cancer experienced complete remission lasting six months, 18 months and ongoing at 22 months.

For two of these patients, treatment with chemotherapy had failed. One patient experienced a 30 percent decrease in the size of a lung nodule, and for seven patients, the disease did not progress for a period ranging from almost five months to more than 28 months.

One of the significant advantages is that the vaccine has virtually no side effects, Nemunaitis said.

Non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common type, is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the United States. More than 150,000 people nationwide die from the disease each year.

The results of the study are promising, but larger, randomized trials are needed, said Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of thoracic medical oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"For an initial approach, I think it's a good first step," he said.

But it has its limitations. Patients must undergo surgery to remove the tumor cells used to make the vaccine, and it takes time to develop the vaccine.

"It's a technically difficult procedure, and you have to make a different vaccine for every patient," he said.

In the Dallas trial, cancer cells were removed and genetically engineered in the lab. There, a gene called GM-CSF was placed into the cancer cells to change their surface so the body could identify them as cancerous.

After the vaccine, called GVAX, is developed, it is injected into patients every two weeks for a total of three to six vaccinations.

Once the vaccine is injected, the body's immune cells come to the injection site and start to work with immune cells that help rid the body of cancer cells.

The study is believed to be the first in which immune therapy has been the only treatment to result in complete and durable regression of this type of tumor.

Researchers plan to do further studies to determine why the vaccine works for some patients and not others.

"If this proves fruitful, this will open more doors to treating lung cancer using the immune system to our advantage," Nemunaitis said.

West said she never hesitated to try an experimental treatment.

Since receiving the vaccine, she has moved into a new house in Waxahachie, traveled all over the world and watched her daughter graduate from college.

"I would tell anyone who gets the same diagnosis to stretch as far as they can and go to any kind of experimental therapy," she said. "If I hadn't done that, I wouldn't be here now."

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Guest hhamadyk

They only mentioned this study very briefly on the NYC area news...no details. I knew I would find something here. I realize the study on included people with NSCLC, but it gives great hope to all people battling lung cancer. Thanks for posting this information! :D

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