(HealthDay News) — A highly personalized vaccine can spur an immune response in people with advanced melanoma, according to a study published online April 2 in Science.

Beatriz Carreno, PhD, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed tumor samples and healthy tissue from three patients who’d been treated for stage 3 melanoma. Because of the many genetic mutations, the researchers had to first study each patient’s cancer to zero in on seven mutated proteins most likely to be recognized by the immune system as foreign. From there, they engineered a personal vaccine for each patient.

Once the patients were vaccinated, the researchers took blood samples from them every week for about four months. What they found, Carreno told HealthDay, suggested that the vaccine had an effect on the immune system, boosting the number and diversity of T cells that were targeted toward their tumor mutations.

Next up is a phase I clinical trial, which will look at the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in six patients, according to Carreno’s team. If the vaccine does prove effective, Carreno said the same approach could potentially be used against other cancers that typically have a high number of mutated proteins – including lung and bladder cancers, and certain colon cancers.

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