Whole Tumor Vaccination Immunotherapy & Regional Chemotherapy: Combination Therapy
Whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy fights cancer as an invisible ninja. In principle the human immune system should fulfill the requirements for fighting cancer cells. Unnoticed to us, our immune system kills malignant cells in our bodies innumerable times. However, in certain circumstances tumor cells succeed in escaping the surveillance of the immune system and start multiplying. Through this escape mechanism a tumor develops.
The natural and, presumably, most effective method to combat a tumor is to activate the immune system to perform its primary function. This function is attacking and destroying the tumor. The intent of the whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy is to alert the immune system and to induce proliferation of body’s own immune cells. Therefore, an army of empowered immune cells can infiltrate the tumor and kill tumor cells. Whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy should enable immune cells to do just that.
Regional Chemotherapy Helps
Reduction of the size of the tumor mass will maximize the effect of the whole tumor vaccination. In a multimodal treatment, appropriate chemotherapy and Regional Chemotherapy (RCT) treatments can provide the first line of defence. Thus, the goal of the whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy is to complete the treatment by providing mechanism which would prevent new tumor growth.
Multimodal Cancer Treatment Approach
Regional Chemotherapy in general is characterized by strong response rates from the tumors. A subsequent vaccination enhances the abatement of the tumor and keeps the immune system on alert. Its intent is surveillance, attack and damage of potential new tumor growth. The whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy procedure complements Regional Chemotherapy in an ideal way. Personalized whole tumor vaccination leads immune system to recognize individual markers of particular tumors. The presence of such tumor markers stimulates the immune system to attack the cancer. The desired outcome is to help to prolong patient’s life without tumor progression.
Whole Tumor Vaccination Immunotherapy Procedure
The procedure starts with the biopsy of the tumor during the first cycle of Regional Chemotherapy. This procedure requires a sterile environment. Using samples from the tumor biopsy, a specialized laboratory prepares a unique individualized vaccine. The tumor cells undergo certain manipulation which make them easier recognizable by the immune system. As an outcome they can trigger a defensive attack by the immune system.
A few weeks later, to administer the individualized whole tumor vaccination treatment, a medical team employs this vaccine. This is done during the second RCT cycle. At this time the patient receives four of personalized inoculations. With the third cycle of RCT two more personalized whole tumor vaccinations are introduced.
To avoid treatment time lapse while patients are awaiting for preparation of personalized tumor vaccination, it is possible to administer a peptide vaccination. Such procedure should stimulate the immune system in advance of the whole tumor vaccination.
FAQ about Whole Tumor Vaccination Immunotherapy
What are the adverse effects?
Fever and fatigue may occur rarely as a side effect of whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy. As this is still a new cancer treatment modality, its side effects are still being studied.
What is immunotherapy with a whole tumor personalized vaccine?
Each patient’s tumor is different and has a unique pool of antigens (markers), which can trigger an immune response to the tumor. Many of these significant antigens are unique to a particular tumor and are not shared among other tumors. These facts highlight and support the principles underlying the validity of personalized medicine. Vaccines are examples of personalized medicine. Tumor vaccines can educate individual immune system to fight a particular cancer that is specific to this individual.
Whole tumor personalized vaccine is a highly customized and unique cancer treatment with roots on the patients’ own tumors. They educate and enable the immune system to fight one’s own cancer.
Should a vaccine be used by itself or in combination?
Whole tumor vaccines trigger reasonable immune response in patients. In advanced cases, to boost such immune response, a combination of vaccine with chemotherapy or radiotherapy allow to improve tumor response. Whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy can also be effective in combination with immunomodulatory agents that work in synergy with the vaccine and can boost its efficacy. Therefore, whole tumor vaccination immunotherapy can be used by itself as well as in combination with other synergetic oncological therapies.
Why is vaccine and regional chemotherapy are synergetic?
Regional Chemotherapy can allow to limit the side effects that are usually common with systemic chemotherapy. It also can melt large tumors, and it can induce a local killing effect on the tumor itself. As one of the outcomes, it can release all the tumor antigens into the blood system, thus, prompting the immune system to activate against the cancer tissue.
However, such immune response only lasts for a limited time (a few days). The combination of RCT and personalized vaccination can prompt patients’ immune system to fight the cancer longer term and in-parallel with other treatments regimens. Therefore, the two modalities are synergetic.
How are whole tumor vaccines different from other immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy can come in different forms. It could be drug based or cell based. Drug based immunotherapies (with antibodies) activate the immune system without specificity. The whole tumor vaccination treatment requires administration in steps. First step is an induction of the immune system through RCT. Personalized vaccination, which triggers an immune response against patient’s own antigens, is the next step. Therefore, whole tumor vaccination is a completely personalized approach to immunotherapy.