GVAX Vaccine for Pancreatic Cancers

GVAX is a vaccine made from pancreatic cancer cells that have been genetically modified to produce the cytokine GM-CSF, which stimulates the immune system. The cells are then irradiated to prevent cell growth.

Results from a phase II clinical trial of resected pancreatic cancer patients showed that GVAX increased the median survival from 15 to 20 months (historical survival rates), to 24.8 months, an increase of more than 25 %. In addition, the vaccine increased the one-year survival rate from 63 % to 85 %, an increase of 35 %!

Recent results from a phase Ib clinical trial of previously treated pancreatic cancer patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma showed a significant benefit when combined with Ipilimumab. In this trial, the median overall survival of patients increased from 3.3 months for Ipilimumab alone, to 5.5 months for the Ipilimumab plus GVAX.

In addition, the Ipilimumab plus GVAX combination increased the one-year survival rate from 7 % for Ipilimumab alone, to 27 %.

I like this approach because it shows the potential of combining vaccine based approaches with targeted therapies. The following is a link to an upcoming pancreatic cancer clinical trial using GVAX.

Cancer Vaccines CRS-207 and GVAX Pancreas for Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma.

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