PHILADELPHIA – A therapeutic vaccine can boost antibodies and T cells, helping them infiltrate tumors and fight off human papillomavirus (HPV)-related head and neck cancer. Researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania tested the immunotherapy approach in two groups of patients with advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCCa) and found 86 percent showed elevated T cell activity. It is also the first study to show that the vaccine can help immune cells infiltrate tumors. The study also describes one patient who received the vaccine on the trial, developed metastatic disease seven months later, then was treated with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy and has been in remission for more than two years. Researchers published their findings in Clinical Cancer Research today.
HNSCCa is a cancer that develops in the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. Smoking and tobacco use are known causes, but the number of cases related to HPV infection–a sexually transmitted infection that is so common, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says almost all sexually active adults will contract it at some point in their lifetimes–is among the fastest growing cancer types. The CDC estimates 70 percent of all head and neck
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