Further development and wider use of dendritic cell-based anticancer vaccines has the potential to significantly increase cancer survival rates and improve the quality of life and function with fewer adverse effects.
Anticancer therapy using the patient’s own immune cells is an ever-growing area of cancer research that supports personalized medical efforts. This approach in immunotherapy provides specific results that can spare normal tissue and considerably decrease adverse side effects. The use of dendritic cells, powerful antigen-presenting cells of the immune system, is extensively studied. Positive gains have been realized in this arena and are changing the face of cancer therapy.
A company in India (LDG India) in collaboration with a laboratory based in Germany has developed an immunotherapy based on the use of dendritic cells. This approach, long antigen exposition dendritic cell therapy (Lanex DC) is a vaccination strategy using dendritic cells pulsed with tumor lysate (or a specific tumor marker). LDG India reports that using this newer therapy in patients with cancer has led to increases in quality of life, prolonged lifespan, and significant symptom control.
The LDG scientists indicate that their newest version of the dendritic cell vaccine can treat any type and stage of cancer with the exception of blood cancers. Giving the vaccine during chemo- or radiotherapy may provide some advantages since tumor cells damaged by these treatments are more easily overcome with immunotherapy. However, as a monotherapy, dendritic cell vaccines represent a cancer-treatment approach with a much lower toxicity profile than conventional therapies. They are also very valuable in those with poor treatment response to conventional therapies.
Previous studies by the group using Lanex DC demonstrated that patients who began treatment within two months of pancreatic cancer diagnosis had higher survival rates than those starting treatment several months after diagnosis. Currently, the Lanex DC treatment is given in only one cycle instead of multiple cycles (average of six). However, additional cycles can further improve survival time. Further development and wider use of dendritic cell−based anticancer vaccines has the potential to significantly increase cancer survival rates, while improving quality of life and function by avoiding many of the adverse effects induced with conventional treatments and using a more directed personalized medical approach.
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