UConn Health Doctors Working on Personalized Ovarian Cancer Vaccine

For the first time ever, doctors and scientists at UConn Health hope to use state of the art genetic information to make personalized vaccines for women with ovarian cancer.

The personalized medicine might sound like science fiction, but it has already proven successful in mice.

Dr. Pramod Srivastava, director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health, said they are awaiting FDA approval in the coming months to begin human trials.

“We will take about 15 women over the course of a year or so and we’ll make a vaccine for each woman, for her tumor, from her blood and her tumor samples,” Srivastava said.

Researchers chose to target ovarian cancer first because it is such a deadly and silent killer of women and is usually discovered at a later stage.

The findings involve developments in genomic medicine, which were published in September in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Dr. Srivastava said different cancer cells have different appearances and they have found new ways to recognize that.

“We can define the fingerprint of each tumor and make a drug, make a vaccine, for that patient’s tumor based on that patient’s information” he said.

What this could mean for future cancer treatments, according to Dr. Srivastava, is “exhilarating.”
“We could not have done this even 10 years ago. This is just so new. When you have a new method appear it changes the world as you see it,” he said.

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