The first immunotherapy trial for advanced cancer is being done at the Guy's and St Thomas' Biomedical Research Center in London, UK.
Researchers have tried a new 'vaccine' that could stimulate the immune system and potentially kill tumor cells anywhere in the body.
People with advanced cancers have weakened immune system and, therefore, this vaccine will help stimulate immune cells to kill only the tumor cells and not the healthy ones. The vaccine contains a small fragment of protein from an enzyme called human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT).
‘A vaccine containing the enzyme human telomerase reverse transcriptase is being tested against terminal cancer in the UK.’
The vaccine has been currently injected to Ms Kelly diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. She is eligible for this trial because her cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Along with the vaccine, Kelly will also receive low doses of chemotherapy drug to stimulate an effective immune response against tumor cells.
"We know that the immune system in patients with advanced cancer is suppressed, so it's unable to recognize and kill cancer cells," said Professor Hardev Pandah, principal investigator on the trial from the University of Surrey in Guildford.
"In this trial we are investigating a form of immunotherapy designed to activate the body's immune system by administration of a vaccine based on fragments to a key cancer protein," Professor Pandah said.
The trial is underway, and the researchers hope that the vaccine will destroy the tumors effectively without causing any side effects.