What is an ovarian cancer vaccine?
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is conducting a clinical trial with an ovarian cancer vaccine (OVAX).
In 2008, Dr. Sybilann Williams, a gynecologic oncologist and surgeon at CTCA, collaborated with other clinicians to begin this research study. The study was designed to evaluate whether a personalized ovarian cancer vaccine for women with chemotherapy-resistant, advanced-stage disease, could help the body’s immune system react to and help destroy the cancer cells.
How does a vaccine work?
Cancer cells are a body’s own cells, so under most circumstances the immune system is not designed to attack them. It is believed that one reason cancer cells continue to grow is because the immune system does not realize that the cancer is something it should be fighting.
In this clinical trial, a sample of the woman’s ovarian cancer cells are altered in a laboratory in such a way that the immune system will hopefully be able to recognize them as foreign and destroy them. The cells are then given back to the woman as vaccines injected into the arm, similar to allergy shots.
This trial will help determine if a woman’s immune system can learn to recognize the cancer cells as foreign, attack those cells and, at the same time, develop an immune memory of the cells to prevent future progression of the cancer.
Vaccine for ovarian cancer (OVAX)
How do we create your ovarian cancer vaccine?
A woman might be eligible for the trial if it has already been determined that she needs surgery to reduce the amount of ovarian cancer tissue that has grown in her abdomen or other areas of the body. A sample of the tumor is taken during surgery and sent to a laboratory to create the personalized vaccine. The administration of the vaccine begins approximately four weeks after surgery and is given once a week for seven weeks. A booster vaccine is given six months after the first vaccine.
Throughout the seven weeks the vaccine is given, patients are monitored with physical exams and blood work. CT scans may be ordered by a physician if medically indicated, but are not part of this research study. If these tests detect tumor progression, the woman’s oncologist will discuss other options with her.
Who is eligible to participate in the ovarian cancer vaccine (OVAX) study?
Women with ovarian cancer tumor progression after at least one prior chemotherapy regimen may be eligible to participate in the study based on specific criteria.
To learn more about this clinical trial at CTCA, call 800-234-0490.