Experimental Vaccine Sets Sights on Lung Cancer
An experimental immunotherapy may someday become the newest weapon against lung cancer. Physician-scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center are enrolling patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital as part of an ongoing Phase III trial.
The experimental immunotherapy is intended to prevent cancer recurrence in patients who have already undergone surgical removal of the tumor. The therapy works by exposing the body to a protein called melanoma-associated antigen-A3 (MAGE-A3), normally produced by lung cancer cells.
“By exposing the body to the antigen, the immune system is primed to attack the cancer,” says Dr. Nasser Altorki, principal investigator for the study.
The MAGE-A3 protein is classified as an Antigen-Specific Cancer Immunotherapeutic (ASCI). ASCIs are meant to trigger a specific response, telling antibodies and T-cells of the immune system to recognize and attack the cancer cells.
“We are hopeful that if this investigational therapy continues to show encouraging results in clinical trials that it may become a new weapon against non-small cell lung cancer,” explains Dr. Joshua R. Sonett, the study’s principal investigator. “Because the vaccine augments the patient’s own immune system, it may be less toxic to normal cells and can be used even when standard chemotherapy is needed. It is a win-win situation.”