Interview. Toulouse-developed cancer vaccine shows “exciting results”

Professor Jean-Pierre Delord from the Cancer Institute of the University of Toulouse is piloting the clinical trial with three other colleagues. The first results from phase I show that the vaccine elicited an immune system response against cancer cells in patients.

It is an international project with more than encouraging results in the fight against cancer and its recurrence. The first results of the clinical trial of a vaccine against head and neck cancers and ovarian cancer show that the immune system of the patients was strengthened after several injections. And this success is partly Toulouse.

In France, Oncological Institute of the Toulouse Oncopole University (IUCT-Oncopole) and Institut Curie they are piloting these tests with the United Kingdom and the United States. And it was at IUCT-Oncopole where the first French patient received in January 2021 a dose of the individualized TG4050 vaccine. Professor of Oncology Jean-Pierre Delord Director General of the IUCT-Oncopole and thinternational expert in phase I studies, he is leading the clinical trial in Toulouse and reviewing this breakthrough with France 3 Occitanie.

How does this vaccine work?

“It is an individualized vaccine, that is, it is manufactured for each patient. We first operate to shrink your tumor, then we analyze it to sequence its DNA and look for mutations that lead to cancer cells. The 30 or 40 antigens that are most likely to cause a tumor are selected to make the vaccine. It is then inserted into a viral structure, which makes it possible to stimulate the tumor. Immune system. After their operation, patients will undergo radiotherapy to avoid a relapse, and that’s when we do the vaccine, we need less than three months. ”

We are talking about “promising results” for the first results of the phase I clinical trial …

“A total of six patients have been vaccinated around the world, and so far we have complete results in four of them. What we have seen are signs that white blood cells can attack tumors. We have managed to wake up the immune system of the patients by activating killer cells, and also those that will activate immune memory “.

When can we imagine curing these types of cancers?

“I don’t know. It is still too early to say if this immune response will be long-lasting and effective enough over time. And we still don’t know if this is enough to cure patients. These results are very exciting, because we activated a response from the immune system. But you have to be careful, it is not enough to say that we can cure cancer “.

If it turns out to be effective, could it fight cancer?

“Unfortunately not, because some cancers appear with a small number of abnormalities and are invisible to the immune system. Our vaccine deals with cancers that have a medium level of mutations and represent between 40 and 60% of cancers. Think about it. use it, for example, for breast cancer, a digestive tumor, a lung cancer … The list goes on. “

Two trials are currently underway. The former refers to human papillomavirus negative patients with head and neck cancers, while the latter refers to women with ovarian cancer.

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