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Cancer vaccine developed using Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine technology

Cancer Vaccine

Scientists are utilising the same technology used in the creation of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab to develop a vaccine to treat cancer.

Researchers at the University of Oxford and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research have designed a two-dose therapeutic cancer vaccine using Oxford’s viral vector vaccine technology. The cancer vaccine, which has already been tested in mouse tumour models, has been shown to increase the levels of anti-tumour T cells infiltrating the tumours and improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.

The study has been published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer.

Immunotherapy

The process of cancer immunotherapy involves turning a patient’s own immune system against a tumour. PD-1 is a checkpoint protein on immune cells called T cells. It normally acts as a type of ‘off switch’ that helps to prevent the T cells from attacking other cells in the body. Anti-PD-1 immunotherapy works by taking the brakes off these anti-tumour T cells, enabling them to kill cancer cells. Although this therapy has proved hugely successful in some cancer patients, it is ineffective for most.

Researchers have sighted low levels of anti-tumour T cells in some patients as one of the reasons for the poor efficacy of anti-PD-1 cancer therapy. The vaccine technology behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine generates strong CD8+ T cell responses, which are required for good anti-tumour effects.

In this study, the researchers developed a two-dose therapeutic cancer vaccine with different prime and boost viral vectors, one of which is the same as the vector in the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. To create a vaccine that specifically targets cancer cells, it was designed to target two MAGE-type proteins that are present on the surface of many types of cancer cells. Known as MAGE-A3 and NY-ESO-1, these two targets were previously validated by the Ludwig Institute.

Reduction in tumour size

When trialled in preclinical experiments using mouse tumour models, the vaccine increased the levels of tumour-infiltrating CD8+ T cells and enhanced the response to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. The combined vaccine and anti-PD-1 treatment resulted in a greater reduction in tumour size and improved the survival of the mice compared to anti-PD-1 therapy alone.

Benoit Van den Eynde, Professor of Tumour Immunology at the University of Oxford, Member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Director of the de Duve Institute, Belgium, said: “We knew from our previous research that MAGE-type proteins act like red flags on the surface of cancer cells to attract immune cells that destroy tumours.

“MAGE proteins have an advantage over other cancer antigens as vaccine targets since they are present on a wide range of tumour types. This broadens the potential benefit of this approach to people with many different types of cancer.

“Importantly for target specificity, MAGE-type antigens are not present on the surface of normal tissues, which reduces the risk of side effects caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells.”

In the next step of this research, scientists will carry out a Phase 1/2a clinical trial of the cancer vaccine in combination with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy in 80 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. This trial is due to take place later this year as a collaboration between Vaccitech Oncology Limited (VOLT) and Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development.

Adrian Hill, Lakshmi Mittal and Family Professorship of Vaccinology and Director of the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, said: “This new vaccine platform has the potential to revolutionise cancer treatment. The forthcoming trial in non-small cell lung cancer follows a Phase 2a trial of a similar cancer vaccine in prostate cancer undertaken by the University of Oxford that is showing promising results.

“Our cancer vaccines elicit strong CD8+ T cell responses that infiltrate tumours and show great potential in enhancing the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade therapy and improving outcomes for patients with cancer.”

Tim Elliott, Kidani Professor of Immuno-oncology at the University of Oxford and co-Director of Oxford Cancer, said: “In Oxford, we are combining our fundamental scientific expertise in immunology and antigen discovery with translational research on vaccine platforms.

“By bringing these teams together, we can continue to address the significant challenge of broadening the positive impact of immunotherapy to benefit more patients.”

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COVID19 vaccines effective enough, no need for third booster jab: Lancet

Cancer Vaccine

AFP

(Asian News Hub) – Vaccines are effective enough at preventing severe cases of Covid-19 that there is no current need for the general population to be given third doses, according to a report in The Lancet published Monday.

Some countries have started offering extra doses over fears about the much more contagious Delta variant, causing the World Health Organization to call for a moratorium on third jabs amid concerns about vaccine supplies to poorer nations, where millions have yet to receive their first jab.

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The new report by scientists, including from the WHO, concluded that even with the threat of Delta, “booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic”.

The authors, who reviewed observational studies and clinical trials, found that vaccines remain highly effective against severe symptoms of Covid-19, across all the main virus variants including Delta, although they had lower success in preventing asymptomatic cases of the disease.

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“Taken as a whole, the currently available studies do not provide credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, which is the primary goal of vaccination,” said lead author Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, of the WHO.

She said vaccine doses should be prioritised to people around the world still waiting for a jab.

“If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants,” she added.

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COVID-19: Samba becomes first district to complete vaccination for all above 18 years

Cancer Vaccine

Instead of waiting for people to come, we reached out to them: DC Samba; LG congratulates for achieving milestone

(Asian News Hub) – Amid the ongoing Covid vaccination drive in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, Samba has become the first district in giving the first dose of Covid vaccine to all above 18 years of age.

A top health official told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that there are around 241,000 persons in the district in between 18-44 age group and all of them have already got their first dose of Covid vaccine.

Also Read: DAK urges flu vaccination for children ahead of third Covid wave

He said that around 78,000 (33 percent) people have also got second dose of Covid vaccine and the process of vaccinating more and more people is going on. “It was possible only due to the efforts of health workers and front line workers who have worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone,” the official said.

District Magistrate Samba Anuradha Gupta said that since the beginning Samba district started the vaccination process strategically and Samba was among first few districts which completed vaccination process of all above 45 years of age.

“Instead of waiting for people to come to us, we went to them. We had constituted mobile teams to reach everyone. We were vaccinating above 45 age group the positivity and mortality rate started declining and people understood the importance of vaccination,” Gupta said.

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She said that then people above 18 years came on their own without need of any mobilisation and “our efforts are on complete second dose process at an earliest.”

Meanwhile LG Manoj Sinha has congratulated the Covid management team of Samba and health care workers for their tireless efforts in completing 100 percent vaccination of above 18 years of age. He hoped that other districts will catch up soon and complete this process as well.

“Congratulations to Covid mgmt team of Samba & health care workers for their tireless effort to ensure 100% vaccination of above 18 yrs of age.Samba becomes first distt. of J&K to achieve this milestone & I am sure other districts will catch up soon,” Office of LG tweeted.

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DAK urges flu vaccination for children ahead of third Covid wave

(Asian News Hub) – Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday urged parents to get their children vaccinated against flu ahead of third Covid wave which is predicted to happen sometime in the fall of this year and is expected to affect kids the most.

“Receiving a flu shot could make it easier to tell if your child has Covid-19 in the event he/she gets sick as both illnesses have similar symptoms,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

Also Read: WHO says Covid will mutate like the flu and is likely here to stay

“This year’s flu season will likely coincide with the predicted third Covid wave. Administering flu vaccine would reduce the number of unnecessary Covid-19 tests that would limit the burden on hospitals and healthcare workers,” he added.

Quoting a recent study conducted at the University of Missouri School of Medicine Columbia, Dr Hassan said flu vaccination may offer some protection against Covid-19 in the pediatric population.

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“The study found that those Covid-19 positive patients who had been administered the flu vaccine in the 2020 flu season had reduced odds of experiencing symptoms, respiratory complications and severe disease,” he said.

The DAK President said we would be facing a double whammy of flu and Covid this fall.

​ “You can catch the flu and Covid at the same time which could increase your risk of ending up in ICU or on a ventilator. That makes this season’s flu vaccine vitally important,” he said.

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“Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine before the start of flu season which begins in October and can last late into May. Since it takes 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to become fully effective, it is best to get the vaccine in September,” said Dr Nisar.

“This season’s flu vaccine has been updated to better match currently circulating viruses. This year a quadrivalent influenza vaccine containing H1N1, H3N2 and two B viruses – Victoria and Yamagata is recommended,” he said.

“While the vaccine is recommended for all, it is especially needed in young children, elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions.

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Vaccination to expectant mothers is critically important to protect their new born babies’ upto 6 months who are too young to receive the vaccine,” he added.

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