Ovarian Cancer Survivor Says Experimental Vaccine Saved Her Life

11:55 AM, Jan 25, 2012   |    comments
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  • Photo courtesy: RPCI
    

BUFFALO, NY - The announcement of an experimental new cancer vaccine came with promise and hope Tuesday morning.

Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute say the NY-ESO-1 dendritic cell vaccine has the potential to "eradicate cancer cells and prevent disease relapse."

"Today is a culmination of more than ten years of efforts at Roswell Park," said Dr. Kunle Odunsi, Director of the Center for Immunotherapy.

But the news of didn't come as any surprise to Christine Sable of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She says Dr. Odunsi's experimental treatment saved her life eight years ago. Sable's treatment, part of a 18-woman trial in 2004, was a precursor that helped researchers develop this latest drug.

Sable was 44 years old when she was diagnosed with stage III Ovarian Cancer.

"I very strongly believe that it is this vaccine that prevented it from recurring," said Sable by phone Tuesday. "It has a very high rate of recurrence, but once it recurs, its not considered curable, at all. So if you get it back, basically, you're done."

She heard about a trial at Roswell on television; the short story changed her life. Soon she was on her way to Buffalo once every three weeks for a year, getting a cycle of shots to help her body identify and fight cancer cells.

"They would do all sorts of tests on my bloodwork and they determined that I was forming antibodies and I was showing a strong immune response," said Sable.

Christine may have thrived after getting the treatment, but not all the patients did.

"The results from that trial were very encouraging, but unfortunately patients still went on to develop the relapse of their disease," said Dr. Odunsi.

Dr Odunsi says after that trial, researchers started to look for a way to help the cancer-fighting cells live longer. This latest effort, he says is filled with promise.

"This is how we're able to move on to the next step to design a stronger and better version of the vaccine," said Dr. Odunsi.

"It makes me very very happy, very very excited, because I think maybe there's someone else out there like me, maybe who's desperate and thought they were not going to live very long, and now they have a chance," said Sable.

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