New vaccine uses body's immune system to fight lymphomas

NEW YORK CITY (KABC) -- Lymphomas are the fifth most common type of cancer in the U.S., and certain forms of the disease may be very resistant to treatment and difficult to cure.

Researchers were testing a vaccine that harnesses the body's immune system to fight back, and, in some cases, it has even put patients into remission.

Doctors inject an immune-cell recruiting protein, known as Flt3 ligand, then an immune cell activator, known as a TLR agonist, directly into tumors, along with two days of radiation.

The vaccine that results from the process then trains the immune system to recognize cancer and kill the bad cells.

"The real purpose of this is to make the tumors everywhere in the body melt away," Dr. Joshua Brody, director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai explained.

Sergei German, 56, turned to the treatment after being diagnosed with follicular lymphoma.

"My wife noticed even earlier than that a bump on my neck," German said. "Follicular lymphoma is something which is incurable. That's a bad thing."

Brody said the treatment was very successful for German.

"He had such a good response that he first entered into a partial remission. Then, without even doing any more therapy, that partial remission became a full remission," Brody said.

German has been in remission for more than a year.

Brody said health professionals hope the vaccine, much like ones used to protect against chicken pox or other diseases, will work to keep the cancer at bay for many years.
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