BiovaxID® Improves Disease-free Survival in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Posted on March 8th, 2009 by

BiovaxID® Improves Disease-free Survival in Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

The personalized investigative vaccine BiovaxID® (personalized anti-idiotype vaccine) significantly improves cancer-free survival among patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These results were released in a press release by Accentia BioPharmaceuticals.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a form of cancer that begins in the cells of the lymph system. The lymph system includes the spleen, thymus, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and circulating immune cells. The main cells in the lymph system are lymphocytes, of which there are two types: B- and T-cells. Each cell type has a specific function in helping the body fight infection.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is characterized by the excessive accumulation of atypical (cancerous) lymphocytes. These lymphocytes can crowd the lymph system and suppress the formation and function of other immune and blood cells. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is categorized by the type of lymphocyte it involves and by the rate at which the cancer grows.

Follicular lymphoma is a type of NHL that is considered to be a low-grade or indolent lymphoma, meaning it is a slow-growing subset of NHL. Commonly, the targeted agent Rituxan® (rituximab) is used as part of the treatment regimen for follicular lymphoma, as it binds to a specific component of B-cells. Once Rituxan binds to B-cells, which are cancerous in the majority of NHL cases, the cells are killed by the immune system. Rituxan also appears to have other anticancer mechanisms, which are currently being evaluated.

Treatment for follicular lymphoma often includes initial therapy, referred to as induction therapy, as well as continued therapy, referred to as maintenance therapy. Maintenance therapy is used for extended periods to provide continued suppression of the cancer.

BiovaxID is a vaccine that has just completed Phase III clinical trials, which is the last phase prior to review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). BiovaxID is made by utilizing the patient’s own cancer cells, which are taken from the patient and mixed with immune cells as well as agents to stimulate the immune system. The immune cells learn to recognize the cancer cells as foreign and are then used in the vaccine together with an agent that stimulates the immune system. Once vaccinated, the immune cells recognize and fight cancer cells that may be in the body.

Researchers recently conducted a Phase III clinical trial that included patients with follicular lymphoma who were initially treated with chemotherapy followed by either BiovaxID or a vaccine containing only one of the immune stimulating components of the BiovaxID that did not contain the patient’s immune cells (control group). Follow-up was 80 months.

  • Median cancer-free survival was improved by more than one year among patients treated with BiovaxID.
  • Median time to a cancer relapse was 33.8 months for those treated with BiovaxID compared with only 21.2 months for those in the control group.

Based on these results, Accentia BioPharamceuticals plans to move forward in pursuit of FDA approval for BiovaxID. Patients with NHL may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating BiovaxID or other promising therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov) and http://www.eCancerTrials.com.

Reference: Accentia BioPharmaceuticals. Biovest reports results for patients treated with anti-cancer vaccine: BiovaxID® demonstrates clinically and statistically significant improvement of disease-free survival in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in pivotal phase 3 clinical trial [press release]. Available at: http://www.accentia.net/investors/news.php. Accessed July 2008.

Related News: BiovaxID™ Promising for Follicular Lymphoma (1/11/2006)

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