Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Hosting Cancer Vaccine Study; Trial Will Begin Next Month in Savannah

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Hosting Cancer Vaccine Study; Trial Will Begin Next Month in Savannah

Article excerpt

Byline: ANNE HART

SAVANNAH -- Imagine having a colon cancer tumor surgically removed, then a vaccine made from that tumor's cells injected into your body to prevent the cancer from returning.

An international study, expected to start next month in Savannah at the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion at St. Joseph's/Candler hospital, involves injecting such custom-made vaccines into colon cancer patients.

Herbert C. Hoover, director and chief of surgical oncology at the pavilion, will be the study's co-principal investigator. The other investigator is Cornelius Punt, a doctor in the Netherlands.

Hoover and Michael Hanna, founder and chief scientific officer of Intracel, the Frederick, Md.-based company behind the vaccine, have been working together to develop the vaccine for almost three decades.

The vaccine, called OncoVAX, is administered after surgery and trains a patient's immune system to attack colon cancer cells.

"This is unprecedented to use tumor cells as the source of the vaccine to prevent recurrence of cancer," Hanna said.

The vaccine is intended for Stage II colon cancer patients. Patients in Stage III or Stage IV of colon cancer may undergo chemotherapies, but surgery is the only standard treatment for those in Stage II, according to the National Cancer Institute. Even with the complete surgical removal of the cancer, 25 to 40 percent of patients in Stage II experience recurrence of their cancer, according to NCI.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the clinical trial, which Hanna believes will lead to a "clear path to drug approval."

The first site and training center for the study will be Savannah, then extend to about 30 other hospitals.

"Patients who have colon cancer need to make sure their doctors are aware of this," Hoover said.

THE STUDY

Here's how the study is expected to work.

Eligible patients with Stage II colon cancer have surgery to have a colon cancer tumor removed. …

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