Cervical Precancer Vaccine Triggers Immune Cell Response
Baltimore, MD - Preliminary results of a small clinical trial show that a vaccine used to treat women with high-grade precancerous cervical lesions triggers an immune cell response within the damaged tissue itself. The Johns Hopkins scientists who conducted the trial said the finding is significant because measuring immune system responses directly in the lesions may be a more accurate way to evaluate so-called “therapeutic” vaccines than by the conventional means of blood analysis.
“It’s difficult to measure immune cell responses to therapeutic vaccines, but we believe that clinical studies could tell us more about the value and function of the vaccines if we check for the response in the lesions, where the immune system is fighting precancerous cells,” says Connie Trimble, M.D., associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics, oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins’ Kimmel Cancer Center.
Results of the first 12 women enrolled at Johns Hopkins on a clinical trial led by Trimble are reported online in the Jan. 27 issue of Science Translational Medicine. Each of the women was diagnosed with high-grade precancerous cervical lesions linked to a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV16) most commonly associated with cervical cancer. In a bid to treat the lesions and prevent cervical cancer, they received three vaccine injections in the upper arm over an eight-week period.
Two types of vaccines were used for the study: one constructed with genetically engineered DNA molecules that teach immune system cells to recognize premalignant cells expressing HPV16 E7 proteins, and one that is a non-infectious, engineered virus that targets and kills precancerous cells marked by HPV16 and HPV18 E6 and E7 proteins. Continue>
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