- Approximately 15,000 new cases of ENT cancer are diagnosed each year.
- Different risk factors can promote the occurrence of ENT cancer. This is particularly the case for the consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
A cancer of the otolaryngeal sphere (ENT) develops in one of the organs forming the upper aerodigestive tract (VADS). This disease can therefore affect different areas such as the mouth, nasopharynx, oropharynx, hypopharynx and larynx.
A vaccine to reduce the risk of relapse of ENT cancers
In January 2021, a French patient affected by ENT cancer was able to benefit from an individualized TG4050 vaccine during a first clinical trial conducted by the University Institute of Toulouse (IUCT-Oncopole) and Transgene, a Biotech company based in Alsace. , who developed the serum. This research aims to prevent the risk of relapse, which concerns half of patients with ENT cancer.
Two years later, nearly 21 patients in France, including 15 in Toulouse and 6 at the Institut Curie in Paris, were included in the study. For the time being, around ten volunteers have been vaccinated in France during the first phase of the research. “We are nearing the end of this clinical trial, which motivates us not to stop there (…) We are going to move on to phase two this year, which is more ambitious and must demonstrate even more strongly the benefit provided by our treatment”, has indicated Hedi Ben Brahin, CEO of Transgene, to the media Toulouse news.
Therapeutic cancer vaccine: “a unique medicine for each patient”
This therapeutic vaccine aims to treat the patient, not to prevent a disease as conventional vaccines do. The company Transgene uses DNA sequencing and artificial intelligence to produce individualized doses in three to four months. “We will train the immune system, teach it how and where to attack each patient’s cancer according to its characteristics. Such a product is at the forefront of personalized medicine. We will make a unique drug for each patient. It is a major effort in research, but also in production”, explained Hedi Ben Brahin.
In the future, the clinical trial could be extended to other types of cancer, but it focuses, for the moment, only on ENT and ovarian cancers which respond less well to immunotherapy. “The vaccine is based on the presence of mutations found in most cancers, behind which there is potential for application to many other types of tumors (…) But when you want to have clinical results, you need a controlled study and you have to start somewhere”said Professor Maha Ayyoub, immunologist at the IUCT.
The first results of this clinical trial are very encouraging, according to the researchers. No vaccinated patient relapsed, but a larger trial needs to be performed to confirm these initial findings. “We are very happy with this result, but we cannot claim victory today. It still takes a little time before this vaccine is a conventional medicine and accessible to all.”noted Professor Jean-Pierre Delord, oncologist and CEO of IUCT-Oncopole.