Lung cancer is the cause of 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year. It is a disease which often presents with insidious onset as advanced disease leaving sufferers with few treatment options and little time to live.
Over 80% of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancers, with current therapy options of chemotherapy and immunotherapy including tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as erlotinib and docetaxel. Up to 80% of these cancers have been found to over-express epidermal growth factor receptor, something not targeted by current therapies. A group of medical researchers in Cuba have spent recent years developing an epidermal growth factor vaccine, Cimavax-EGF. The vaccine causes the body to produce antibodies to the growth factor receptor, destroying it and consequently starving the cancer of growth.
They have published the results of their recent clinical trial involving 405 patients with stage IIIB/IV non-small cell lung cancer with a life expectancy of at least three months and compared groups who received best supportive care with those who received the vaccine and best supportive care, 6 weeks after completing first-line chemotherapy.
They found that for patients completing at least 4 vaccine doses median survival time was 3 months longer than those who were not vaccinated and five year survival was more than double that of non-vaccinated patients (both results were statistically significant to CI 95%). Interestingly the most significant side effects reported were injection site pain, fever and vomiting.
The drug has now entered phase III clinical trials and we are sure the medical world will wait for results with eager anticipation.
Clinical Trial launched at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in the United States, for more information please visit https://www.roswellpark.org/cancer-vaccine.
(Source of cimavax image).