Researchers have developed a new, highly effective vaccine that prevents a typical childhood cancer from spreading to other organs, the most common tumor type among young children, their parents and siblings.
The clinical trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed 66 percent of 50 children who received an investigational vaccine produced antibodies up to 14 months after the first dose. They were then vaccinated again at approximately four months.
“Laboratory test results after 12 months are encouraging, and these results are being shared with families in the hopes of producing a good outcome,” said Richard Blumenthal, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of OncoNet, the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center of Excellence at the University of Houston.
According to the American Cancer Society, childhood cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in young people, outranking lung cancer (3,284) and breast cancer (2,364), the second-leading causes of cancer-related death in children and young adults. The annual incidence of cancer-related deaths of children and young adults has nearly tripled between 1980 and 2018, with an estimated 318,410 newly diagnosed cases and 81,828 deaths caused by cancer in 2019.
Blumenthal proposed this vaccine strategy based on a patented positioning strategy of nanosized virus particles (nanovirus particles, or NKV) that were isolated from neutropenia, a rare genetic cancer, together with a high number of cancer-driving mutations in the gene for CCR5, a protein that suppresses NKT. The glycans — or shots — were made from proteins contained within the virus particles.
“This is the first strategy that protects the disease from reaching other organs and limits insidious cancer’s ability to spread to other organs if it can be introduced later in life,” Blumenthal said.
The vaccine, called NPV-05, was developed by Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center’s PLAUTOS project in collaboration with OncoNet and was tested in 20 children enrolled in the Kimmel Cancer Center’s PK/PDX clinical trial and Stafford Hospital pediatric trial. The trial evaluated the effectiveness of the vaccine in 39 adults with glioblastoma (brain and spinal malformation, about 80 percent of adults with the disease) and 30 adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (blood cancer, about 65 percent of adults with the disease).
Because the vaccine was vaccinated in phase 1, it would require a trial regimen that would work with any standard adult dose of the vaccine, including people who received the vaccine as children.
And because the vaccine is so effective, the children receiving it will need to wait no longer to start the highly-traveling chemotherapy regimen recommended by the World Health Organization, the team predicted.
Mitra Senina, Ph.D., of presidential candidate Ronald Reagan National Medical System health at Children’s Health Alternatives to Radiation and Radiation, the trial’s lead author, said 60 children either lost their lives or were diagnosed with cancer at the time with no vaccine available.
In 2004, Blumenthal and colleagues were able to use the genetic sequencing of the NKT virus to estimate immune responses to the drug.