A short time ago, we received an email that contained an individual patient’s cancer genome. The patient had appealed to his doctor to make a personalized cancer vaccine, and his doctor emailed us, to ask if we could help out. Our answer? Yes we can! A bigger question might be – how will the patient get permission to use his/her vaccine once we design it? Fortunately, this particular patient is already in Europe, where (at least in some countries) an individual patient and his doctor can make a joint decision to try advanced therapies that are not yet approved for general use. The practice has already been adopted for some malignant B cell tumors, and has met with some success.
Yes, you read that right. personalized (cancer) vaccines are already in use in Europe (see this article for example) and Japan. Pioneering scientists at the University of Leiden, the University of Tokyo, Mie University, University of Mainz, Cornell University, and other institutions (to name just a few examples) are pushing the cancer immunotherapy field forward. Now that anti-PD-1 and other ‘check point’ inhibitors are in use for cancer immunotherapy, there is increased interest in developing personalized cancer vaccines that are based on tumor-unique mutations and individual patient HLA alleles.
Now that’s right in our sweet spot! Ever since we developed EpiMatrix, we’ve been itching to make personalized vaccines. Now, that vision is becoming reality. EpiVax is already developing a “personalized vaccine pipeline” that enables oncologists (and biotech companies) to design and produce personalized cancer vaccines – directly derived from the tumor genome. To learn more about our plans, and to participate in the discussion, please see our events page here.