Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Cancer Vaccine Begins Phase I Clinical Trials

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Cross-disciplinary team brings novel therapeutic cancer vaccine to human clinical trials.

A cross-disciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and clinicians announced today that they have begun a Phase I clinical trial of an implantable vaccine to treat melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.

The effort is the fruit of a new model of translational research being pursued at Harvard University that integrates the latest cancer research with bioinspired technology development. It was led by David J. Mooney, who is the Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, along with Glenn Dranoff, who is co-leader of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Cancer Vaccine Center, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and an associate faculty member at the Wyss Institute.

Most therapeutic cancer vaccines available today require doctors to first remove the patient’s immune cells from the body, then reprogram them and reintroduce them back into the body. The new approach, which was first reported to eliminate tumors in mice in Science Translational Medicine in 2009, instead uses a small disk-like sponge about the size of a fingernail that is made from FDA-approved polymers. The sponge is implanted under the skin, and is designed to recruit and reprogram a patient’s own immune cells “on site,” instructing them to travel through the body, home in on cancer cells, then kill them.

The technology was initially designed to target cancerous melanoma in skin, but might have application to other cancers. In the preclinical study reported in Science Translational Medicine, 50 percent of mice treated with two doses of the vaccine—mice that would have otherwise died from melanoma within about 25 days—showed complete tumor regression.

“Our vaccine was made possible by combining a wide range of biomedical expertise that thrives in Boston and Cambridge,” said Mooney, who specializes in the design of biomaterials for tissue engineering and drug delivery. “It reflects the bioinspired engineering savvy and technology development focus of engineers and scientists at the Wyss Institute and Harvard SEAS, as well as the immunological and clinical expertise of the researchers and clinicians at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School.”

“This is expected to be the first of many new innovative therapies made possible by the Wyss Institute’s collaborative model of translational research that will enter human clinical trials,” said Wyss Founding Director Don Ingber, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, and a Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard SEAS. “It validates our approach, which strives to move technologies into the clinical space much faster than would be possible in a traditional academic environment. It’s enormously gratifying to see one of our first technologies take this giant leap forward.”

The Wyss Institute comprises a consortium of researchers, engineers, clinicians, and staff with industrial and business development experience from Harvard University and nine other collaborating institutions in Greater Boston.

“It is rare to get a new technology tested in the laboratory and moved into human clinical trials so quickly,” said Dranoff, who also leads the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Program in Cancer Immunology. “We’re beyond thrilled with the momentum, and excited about its potential.”

Recruitment of participants for the clinical trial began recently under the leadership of F. Stephen Hodi, Jr., Director of Dana-Farber’s Melanoma Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The goal of the Phase I study, which is expected to conclude in 2015, is to assess the safety of the vaccine in humans.

The cancer vaccine work has received support from the Wyss Institute, Dana-Farber, and the National Institutes of Health. In addition to Mooney, Dranoff, and Hodi, other collaborators include Edward Doherty and Omar Ali at the Wyss Institute; Jerry Ritz, Director of the Cell Processing Laboratory at Dana-Farber; Sara Russell and Charles Yoon, surgeons at Dana-Farber; and other clinical research team members based at Dana-Farber.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Farming’s in Their DNA
Ancient genomes reveal natural selection in action.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Exposure to Pesticides In Childhood Linked to Cancer
Young children who are exposed to insecticides inside their homes may be slightly more at risk for developing leukemia or lymphoma during childhood, according to a meta-analysis by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
So Long, Snout
Research helps answer how birds got their beaks.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Delivering Hope in Ovarian Cancer
Gene therapy blocked chemoresistant tumor growth in mice.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Expanding the Brain
A team of researchers has identified more than 40 new “imprinted” genes, in which either the maternal or paternal copy of a gene is expressed while the other is silenced.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Beyond Average
Researchers have created new platforms to genetically barcode tens of thousands of cells at a time allowing unprecedented detail to be uncovered when studying whole tissue samples.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
One Molecule at a Time
The ability to study single molecules provides tangible targets for personalised medicine.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Diabetes’ Genetic Variety
Researchers find nine variants that can greatly increase risk from disease.
Friday, September 19, 2014
A Marker for Breast Cancer
Research says it soon may be possible to gauge individual risk for disease, and eventually to treat it.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Controlling Genes with Light
New technique can rapidly turn genes on and off, helping scientists better understand their function.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Developing Cancer Drugs
Researchers find therapeutic potential in ‘undruggable’ target.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Coelacanth Genome Similar to that of Fossils
Unexpected insights from a fish with a 300-million-year-old fossil record.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
One Cell is All You Need
Innovative technique can sequence entire genome from single cell.
Monday, January 07, 2013
Building with DNA Bricks
Harvard’s Wyss Institute creates versatile 3-D nanostructures.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute Engineer Novel DNA Barcode
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode that could come in an almost limitless array of styles.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Scientific News
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Farming’s in Their DNA
Ancient genomes reveal natural selection in action.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Enzyme Critical to Maintaining Telomere Length Discovered
New method expected to speed understanding of short telomere diseases and cancer.
Gene Drive Reversibility Introduces New Layer of Biosafety
Ability to introduce or reverse the spread of genetic traits through populations could one day improve pest management and disease control.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos