Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, CA, recently worked with experts from other institutions to develop a vaccine that would be effective against melanoma (a type of skin cancer) when administered in conjunction with other therapies, Medical News Today reports.
According to Prof. Dale Boger, who co-led the research with Nobel laureate Bruce Beutler, "This co-therapy produced a complete response — a curative response — in the treatment of melanoma."
These promising results are reported in a study paper now published in the journal PNAS.
The researchers tested three different therapy options in a mouse model of aggressive melanoma. All of the mice received a type of cancer immunotherapy known as anti-PD-L1, but in addition to this, they also received different vaccine variants.
Prof. Boger and team split the mice into three groups: one group had the cancer vaccine, another group had the vaccine plus a molecule called Diprovocim, and the third group had the cancer vaccine and another adjuvant: a chemical known as alum.
Diprovocim is an adjuvant compound that boosts therapy by reinforcing the immune response. This compound is particularly attractive to researchers developing new therapies, because it is easy to synthesize and modify.
The researchers found that the eight mice that received the vaccine plus Diprovocim treatment in addition to the anti-PD-L1 therapy had a 100 percent survival rate over 54 days.
In comparison, the rodents that received the immunotherapy plus the vaccine only did not survive. Those that received anti-PD-L1 plus the vaccine with alum saw a 25 percent survival rate over the same period.
"It was exciting to see the vaccine working simultaneously with a cancer immunotherapy like anti-PD-L1," Prof. Boger says.