ICT 107 is a vaccine for glioblastoma cancer stem cells. This vaccine was developed by a company called ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, (https://www.imuc.com ) primarily by researchers at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. https://virtualtrials.com/newsarticle.cfm?item=6107 This protocol has completed phase II testing and now it is open to a phase 3 randomized double blind control study for newly diagnosed glioblastoma. Swedish Medical Center in Seattle is enrolling patients for this clinical trial.
How does this vaccine work? The concept is that cancer stem cells are a small subset of cells that are found in glioblastomas and other cancers. These tumor cells appear to have the capacity to repopulate the tumor after standard radiation and chemotherapy treatments. There are several proteins that have been associated specifically with these cancer stem cells, and the concept is that if you could vaccinate your immune system to target these proteins, you may be able to have year immune system attacking these glioblastoma cancer stem cells, thereby getting to the Achilles’ heel of the tumor. There are 6 proteins that have been identified, and these proteins are made synthetically and then placed into a patient’s own white blood cells. The patient’s white blood cells are derived from a process called leukopheresis, in which blood is drawn from the patient, and a group of cells are pulled out. These cells include cells called dendritic cells, which are the “quarterback” cells of the immune system. They tell the other immune cells what to do and what to target. Thus, if a patient has their dendritic cells removed and the 6 glioblastoma cancer stem cells associated proteins are put into the dendritic cells, then the dendritic cells will hopefully direct the other immune cells, including CD4 positive helper T cells, and cytotoxic CD8 T cells, to attack those proteins.
One of the problems related to this strategy is that certain proteins have to be presented in a very specific way to the immune system and can only be done if a person is genetically able to present those proteins based on their inborn HLA immune status. To participate in this clinical trial, a patient has to have the HLA A2 genetic background. Furthermore this clinical trial is only open the patients who have very little if any residual tumor after a tumor resection. In other words, the enrollment criteria are pretty strict and many patients may not qualify. Nevertheless, it is hoped that this vaccine strategy can induce a potent immune response against glioblastoma cancer stem cells in patients with glioblastoma, and facilitate a robust anti-tumor immune response directed by the dendritic cells and cytotoxic T cells.
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