NEW YORK CITY. (KFSN) --Lymphomas are the fifth most common cancer in the United States. Certain forms of the disease called low-grade Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas are incurable. Now, researchers are testing a vaccine that helps the body's immune system fight the cancer cells and is even putting some patients into remission.
Fifty-six year old Sergei German was the picture of health until two years ago.
German told Ivanhoe, "My wife noticed even earlier than that a bump on my neck."
The bump was cancer, a type called follicular lymphoma.
"Follicular lymphoma is something which is incurable. That's a bad thing," said German.
German knew chemo and other therapies would be unpleasant and he didn't like the wait-and-see approach. That's when he found Joshua Brody, M.D. Dr. Brody, the director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai in New York City is leading a clinical trial testing a lymphoma vaccine.
Dr. Brody said, "The real purpose of this is to make the tumors everywhere in the body melt away."
Over two months, doctors injected an immune-cell recruiting protein, known as FLT3L, then an immune cell activator, known as a TRL-agonist, directly into German's tumor, along with two days of radiation. The vaccine that results from this process then trains the immune system to recognize cancer and kill the bad cells.
"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," Dr. Brody told Ivanhoe.
German has been in remission for more than a year. This father of a ten-year old knows the cancer could mutate or come back, but he feels good right now.
"I appreciate pretty much everything around me," said German.
Dr. Brody said it is the hope that this vaccine, much like one you would get for protection against chicken pox or other diseases, will work to keep the cancer at bay for many years.