Just in Time for January, Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
In an effort to improve therapeutic options for advanced cervical cancer patients, researchers led by Dr. Samir N. Khleif, Director of the GRU Cancer Center at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, GA, investigated a novel vaccine approach. Although the FDA recently approved vaccines for the prevention of cervical cancer, treatment strategies for women with advanced disease remain ineffective. In a two-arm, 32-patient feasibility study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, Dr. Khleif’s group reports a new delivery method for vaccines based on human papilloma virus (HPV)-E6 and -E7 proteins, which are produced by high-risk HPV types HPV16 and HPV18 and which facilitate the cancer’s propagation. Results show that using “pre-immature dendritic cells” (PIDCs) as opposed to immature or mature dendritic cells for peptide delivery was well-tolerated and induced a specific immune response (51Cr release assay and ELISPOT) in the majority of patients. By using PIDCs, the researchers were able to cut time, cost, and the need for specialized facilities required for the preparation of mature dendritic cells. They further identified that either vaccine is applicable for HPV16 and HPV18 tumor types. This small pilot study provides support for a potential new approach to treating patients with cancer, warranting future studies to statistically assess the clinical efficacy (including that in early-stage disease and in combination therapy) of PIDCs pulsed with the HPV-E6 or -E7 peptide.