Researcher helps assess new cancer vaccine

Date 23.02.2018

A University of Northampton scientist has contributed to a study into the effectiveness of a potential new treatment for skin cancer.

Dr Lee Machado, Associate Professor of Biochemistry in Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences co-authored the report into a new vaccine – published in the cancer journal Oncoimmunology – which has shown early promise in its first clinical trial.

The novel, DNA-based vaccine is designed to stimulate the patient’s own immune system to target and destroy their advanced melanoma.

The success of this trial means further, larger scale studies are now likely.

Dr Machado said: “It has been a huge privilege to play a role in this multi-centre clinical study which was led by the Nottingham-based cancer vaccine company Scancell under the scientific leadership of Professor Lindy Durrant.”

During tests, the SCIB1 vaccine was well tolerated by patients and stimulated strong and durable immune responses against their tumours.

This suggests that it may be valuable to evaluate the vaccine in future clinical trials either as a single therapy, or in combination with so called ‘checkpoint inhibitors’ that hinder cancer’s ability to evade the immune system.

This project complements other work going on in Dr Machado’s group investigating the role of the immune system in fighting cancer.

“We currently have a PhD student Nina Albalbeisi who is evaluating the role of an enzyme present in ovarian cancer cells. Our working hypothesis is that this enzyme may flag the presence of cancer cells in the body to the immune system for destruction. If this is the case, then strategies designed to enhance this process may be beneficial in the treatment of patients” added Dr Machado.