HOME > Med in Japan Newsletter No.2 September 2012 > Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy: At the cutting edge of cancer treatment

Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy: At the cutting edge of cancer treatment

Dendritic cell vaccine therapy is a new and highly innovative means of treating cancer. In the therapy, dendritic cells introduced into the body through a vaccine, “teach” the body’s lymphocytes, also known as the immune system’s “strike force”, to recognize cancer cells as a threat and to attack them. Because it uses the patient’s own immune system and affects only pathological cells, the therapy has few side effects and can be administered on an out-patient basis without need for hospitalization.

Mechanism of Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy

Dendritic cells act in the immune system as the “control tower” mechanism that recognizes pathogens and directs lymphocytes to attack them. The dendritic cell vaccine is derived from root monocytes extracted from the patient’s body and then cultivated to produce dendritic cells. When the cultivated dendritic cells are exposed to cancer tissue and reintroduced to the body along with artificial antigens, the dendritic cells imprint lymphocytes in the blood stream with the cancer marker, causing them to attack the cancer cells. Other immune system antibodies are also activated under the command of the dendritic cells to combat the cancer.

Characteristics of Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy

Compatible with standard therapies

Dendritic cell vaccine treatment can be effectively applied concurrently with other, more standard therapies, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.

Less burden on patients

As the therapy affects only targeted cancer cells without harming normal cells, patients need not worry about possible side effects. Treatment possible on out-patient basis.

Inhibits Recurrence / metastasis

Efficacy of cancer marker sensitized lymphocytes in combating cancer is long term and non-local, thus also inhibiting recurrence or mastitis.

Types of Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy

Therapy using artificially derived antigens

This therapy uses artificially induced cancer markers (artificial antigens) such as WT-1 peptide*1. This way, the vaccine can be produced without surgical removal of cancerous cells from the patient’s body. However, it may require matching of white blood corpuscle type (HLA).

Therapy using vaccine derived from patient cancer cells

The vaccine used in this therapy is produced through cultivation of cells in cancerous tissue surgically removed from patient’s body. Thus, the therapy is tailored specifically to the patient’s own unique cancer profile. Surgical removal of tissue at least as large as first joint of little finger is required.

Localized therapy

The dendritic cell vaccine is injected directly into the area of the cancerous tissue. For this therapy, the cancerous area must be accessible to injection.

*1 WT-1 is a protein found in almost all types of cancer. Use of WT-1 peptide antigen produces a dendritic cell vaccine that is generally applicable to most cancers.

NOBEL PRIZE Laureate in Medicine
The late Professor Ralph Steinman (Rockefeller University) was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in medicine for “his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity”.
Professor Ralph Steinman
(2011 Nobel Prize Laureate)
What data prove this therapy is really effective from your clinical results?

Together with our technical affiliate, Tella, Inc., we have completed over 4,950 (as of December 2011) successful courses of treatment using dendritic cells vaccine therapy. (Courtesy of Tella Inc.)

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Article Published in “Pancreas” (Journal of the American Pancreas Society)

Clinical and Immunologic Evaluation of Dendritic Cell-Based Immunotherapy in Combination With Gemcitabine and/or S-1 in Patients With Advanced Pancreatic Carcinoma

Yukino Kimura, MS,* Jun Tsukada, PhD,* Takeshi Tomoda, MD, Hidenori Takahashi, MD,
Kazuhiro Imai, MA,* Kanae Shimamura, MMS,* Makoto Sunamura, MD, PhD,
Yoshikazu Yonemitsu, MD, PhD, Shigetaka Shimodaira, MD, PhD, Shigeo Koido, MD, PhD,
Sadamu Homma, MD, PhD,** and Masato Okamoto, DDS, PhD*

The clinical results in the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer using dendritic cell vaccine therapy in combination with anticancer agents were cited in an article published in the July 22nd, 2011 digital edition of “Pancreas”, the journal of the American Pancreas Society.

This article reported findings based on 49 case studies of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer and histories of chemotherapy who were treated using dendritic cell vaccine and antigenic peptides such as WT-1 in combination with sodium gemcitabine and/or S-1. Analysis of the results showed the therapy to be both safe and effective.

Case study (Pancreatic cancer, Hepatic metastasis, PET-CT)

Primary tumor and metastasis disappeared. Tumor marker returned to normal range.

Before Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy After Dendritic Cell Vaccine Therapy

CR: 100% tumor reduction (disappearance) for period of four or more weeks.
PR: Over 30% tumor reduction for four weeks or more.
SD: 30% or more partial tumor reduction/less than 20% tumor growth/new pathological changes for four weeks or more
R: Cannot positively identify as PR but reaction observed.
PD: 20% or more tumor growth or the appearance of new pathological changes

Med in Japan Newsletter No.2 September 2012