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    Chula announces the “personalised cancer vaccine” project

    Chulalongkorn University held a Chula the Impact 7 Seminar on “the Progress of Personalized, Therapeutic Cancer Vaccine: An Innovation of Hope for Thai Society” by the CU Cancer Immunotherapy Excellence Center, Faculty of Medicine, and the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society, funded by the Second Century Fund, Chulalongkorn University (C2F).

    Assoc. Prof. Virote Sriuranpong, M.D., Ph.D., Head of the Excellence Chulalongkorn Comprehensive Cancer Center, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital said that the Center’s research on cancer immunotherapy focuses on three areas: cellular immunotherapy, personalized therapeutic cancer vaccine, and therapeutic antibody drugs, that can be used in combination or as a standalone treatment.

    Trairak Pisitkun, M.D., Head of Center of Excellence in Systems Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University said that the Center began to develop personalized, therapeutic cancer vaccines in 2017, and the project is in its Phase I of clinical trials in volunteers starting in January 2021. This is the first trial in Thailand, and Southeast Asia.

    Over the past year, the team has tested personalized vaccines on four volunteers with stage-4 cancer: 3 with melanoma, and 1 with renal cancer. Results show that the vaccines are safe, and have mild side effects. After three weeks, a good immune response to specific mutation was found in all four patients.

    The team also monitored the pathological response in one patient by assessing the distribution of T cell lymphocytes in cancer biopsies. Before receiving the vaccination, white blood cells were detected mainly around the periphery of the tumor. After vaccination, white blood cells penetrated more into the cancerous tissue. This patient is currently stable after receiving the vaccine and being monitored for 9 months.

    Within a span of the next four years, the next phase of the clinical trial is expected. When the vaccine’s efficacy and safety are proven, the team will proceed with the patent. Meanwhile, antibody drugs are being manufactured. Animal testing is expected to commence in 2022. If successful, both the vaccines and antibody drugs can be used in combination for better results, and lower costs for patients.

    Meanwhile, a special clean room for the production of more personalized vaccines is under construction to add on to the comprehensive cancer patient care as part of the “Integrated Cancer Research and Treatment Center of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society”. Its completion is expected in February 2024.

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