Kidney Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Clinical Trial of Personalized Vaccine in Kidney Cancer Commences

By: Sarah Jackson
Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are testing a first-of-its-kind personalized cancer vaccine combined with an immunotherapy drug, with the aim of improving outcomes for patients with kidney cancer who are at high risk of recurrence after surgery. This new approach, which aims to mobilize a patient’s immune response against cancer cells that remain in the body after surgery, is being evaluated in a phase I clinical trial of possible 15 to 20 patients. It is the first trial to evaluate a personalized cancer vaccine in patients with kidney cancer.

The vaccine, known as NeoVax, is based on research at Dana-Farber led by Catherine Wu, MD. To make a personalized neoantigen vaccine, samples of the tumor taken from the patient are analyzed to determine which neoantigens are present in the tumor cells. Then, computational methods are used to predict which neoantigens are most likely to provoke a response by the immune system. These neoantigens are then incorporated into a personalized vaccine, which is designed to guide the immune system to attack cancer cells bearing those neoantigens.

David Braun, MD, PhD, is leading the trial together with Toni Choueiri, MD, and Patrick Ott, MD, PhD, in a collaboration with the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. “Our hope is that if we can learn how to make immune therapy work effectively in this tumor type, we will also learn lessons that are more broadly applicable to other types of cancer as well,” noted Dr. Braun.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

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