[MOL] Skin cancer vaccine promising.... [01026] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] Skin cancer vaccine promising....



 
Tuesday, May 23, 2000
Skin Cancer Vaccine Promising

      Scientists say an experimental but promising vaccine has helped extend the lives of patients with malignant melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
       The results of vaccine trials were presented Monday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in New Orleans. Researchers led by Dr. David Berd of Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia developed a vaccine that works by using the patient's own skin cancer cells. Cancer cells are extracted from the patient and then deactivated before being treated with a special chemical. This chemical helps make the cancer cells look foreign enough to the body's immune system for it to react against them.
      In a clinical trial involving 214 melanoma patients whose disease had spread to either one or two lymph node areas, 47 percent lived for five years after receiving the vaccine. Patients whose cancer had spread to only one lymph node showed even better results after being vaccinated, with 50 percent of these patients surviving five years. The surgical cure rate for patients with malignant melanoma that has spread is a grim 20 percent.
      "Those who are doing well after two or three years have a very good chance of long-term survival," Dr. Berd said. He and colleagues have taken their research to the next level; they've started a five-year clinical trial in which they compare the effectiveness of this vaccine to the standard treatment for malignant melanoma. The trial involves about 400 patients in several cities across the United States.
--By Katrina Woznicki


 
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