Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

DNA Vaccine: How Does It Work to Treat CLL?

Read Transcript Download/Print Transcript
View next

Published on August 23, 2018

What kind of responses are seen in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients from DNA vaccine therapy? What does it target in cancer cells? CLL expert Dr. Michael Keating, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses the applications of DNA vaccines in early studies conducted in Europe and explains how this treatment strategy works. Dr. Keating also shares the current progress and what group of CLL patients it may apply to.

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., Pharmacyclics LLC and TG Therapeutics. It is produced by Patient Power in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Featuring

Thank you, Andrew and team, for creating the best information source on the web for CLL!

— John, CLL town meeting attendee

Partners

CLL Global Research Foundation The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Sponsors

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Transcript | DNA Vaccine: How Does It Work to Treat CLL?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jeff Folloder:

Dr. Keating, the last time I saw you, we talked about, what are you gonna do when my CLL comes back? And, you mentioned the DNA vaccine. I think there’d be value in you telling the audience, in general terms, what is a DNA vaccine, and how does it apply?

Dr. Keating:                 

Well, DNA actually makes RNA, which makes proteins, and proteins are the things that regulate what happens to cells, externally and internally. And, there have been a lot of studies, and in fact, the CAR-T cells are a form of DNA vaccine, because you have to put a DNA sequence in there, to make the protein receptor on the surface of the cell.

So, the DNA is just part of how you get to the protein being there. The reason we got interested in it was the husband of one of my patients is very much an international traveler, and he keeps his eyes and ears open for what might be good for treatment of cancer, and the Pasteur Institute, which makes vaccines against all sorts of organisms, etc., came up with this DNA vaccine. Against an enzyme which is fairly continuously being produced in cancer cells, but only very transiently in normal cells. But, the problem was that it was tucked deep inside the nucleus. Then, when they found out it was broken down into little peptides, which then went to the surface.

They did a clinical trial, a Phase I trial, over in France. The people with very resistant solid cancers, and that failed all traditional therapy, and after three injections, a month apart, half of them just stopped growing, and so, he said, I want my wife to have that, and I said, well, good luck. I’m not gonna give it, because I’d get thrown out of the profession. So, he said, well, come to Paris. And, I was very reluctant to go to Paris, but I made the sacrifice, and I went over there, and looked at the science, and the science was actually spectacular. One of the guys who was the co-inventor of this was actually the guy who really was the first to discover the HIV virus.

And so, he brought this along. These are not flakes. So, we’re going to do it in a group of patients that have been high-risk, watch and wait. And, that is that they’re likely to need treatment in the next two to three years. And, see if we can change parameters of the watch and wait patients. And, the other group is the group of patients that have been on ibrutinib for two, three, four, five years. And, they’re doing great, but they had this tiny little group of cells, that are still present in the marrow. And, the question is, can we immunize against that, so that these cells disappear? So, it will be done, probably as soon as we get the lawyers out of the way, which might…

… might require a hitman, or—but, I think that it will start within the next couple of months, and we will accrue to those studies very quickly, and I think we’ll have a pretty good idea by the end of the year whether it works in CLL. Because we do know that it works in the solid cancers, the second part of that is, will it decrease the likelihood of patients with CLL getting other cancers? And, this is where Dr. Farielli’s research comes in, because she and the people at Mayo have demonstrated that there’s a lot of solid tumors that occur in CLL, much higher than in people that don’t have CLL. So, can we stop them getting skin cancers all the time, or can we stop melanoma?

Can we stop kidney cancer, or decrease the likelihood of it happening, and that’s just an element of dealing with the whole disease, not just the CLL cell. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

View next