Kidney Cancer :: New vaccine aims to slow down progression of kidney cancer

A new clinical trial examines the effectiveness of a new vaccine designed to control the spread of cancer cells in people with Stage four kidney cancer.

The goal of the TroVax Renal Immunotherapy Survival Trial (TRIST) is to find out whether the vaccine, working in concert with standard treatment (low dose Interleukin 2, Interferon Alpha, or Sunitinib) for kidney cancer, can prolong the lives of these patients, who are usually given only six to nine months to live at the time of diagnosis.

The experimental vaccine is made up of the virus found in the smallpox vaccine. Researchers have taken the virus and combined it with a gene for the protein called 5T4, which is found on kidney cancer cells. The vaccine is designed to turn on body?s production of antibodies and cells and kill cancer cells in a similar fashion to the way the body fights bacteria or other viruses.

?The patients will receive the vaccine by injection when they come in for their regular treatment,? said Dr. Robert Amato, an oncologist with The Methodist Cancer Center in Houston and the study?s principal investigator in the United States. ?An early result in over 200 patients has shown that the vaccine has been effective in killing the kidney cancer cells and prolonging the lives of patients.?

Kidney cancer is one of the silent cancers. In other words, like pancreatic cancer, patients experience very few, if any, symptoms. The only real sign that something is wrong may be blood in the urine.

In most cases, the tumor will sit in the back of the abdomen making it hard to detect. It can grow quite large before it is discovered, and in more than 40 percent of patients, the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.

This is a double-blind study, meaning some patients will receive the vaccine and others will receive a placebo. Researchers will be looking at 700 patients Stage four kidney cancer patients worldwide over a two year period. The study vaccine is provided free of charge.

?Once kidney cancer has spread to the rest of the body the best we can hope for is to slow the progression of the disease,? Amato said. ?The hope is that the TroVax vaccine will do just that and give these patients a little more time to be with their loved ones.

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