According to a study released on Friday, a new kidney cancer vaccine failed in last-phase of clinical trials to improve the odds of avoiding remission after tumour-removing surgery,.
A team of researchers led by Christopher Wood of the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas gave the vaccine, called vitespen, to 409 patients whose cancerous tumours had been removed.
They then compared the relapse and survival rates to a second group that received no additional treatment.
The difference in outcomes was statistically insignificant, reported the study, published in the British journal The Lancet.
A large number of renal cancer patients relapse after surgery, earlier research has shown. When this happens, it is lethal -- there is no cure for metastatic kidney cancer.
The new vaccine was designed to help prevent such remissions.
There were more than 200,000 new cases of kidney cancer worldwide in 2004, and just over 100,000 deaths, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults, accounting for about 85 percent of all kidney tumours.
The study also showed that a subset of patients with early stages of the disease who had been given vitespin fared marginally better than a control group, but said further trials were needed to verify these results.
In a sharply-worded comment, also published in The Lancet, James Yang of the National Cancer Institute of Bethesda, Maryland chided vaccine manufacturers which "cannot accept the results of randomised trials" that do not meet their expectations.
Selectively highlighting partial findings weakens the credibility of the nascent field of cancer immunotherapy", he said.