IOZK - Immunologisch Onkologisches Zentrum Köln


The combination of our vaccine with antibodies

Until recently, it was thought that immune therapy is most promising with minimal residual disease, i.e. shortly after a successful tumour resection. Today new therapy options are available and immune therapy can provide effective therapeutic results even in stages of advanced tumour growth.

New antibodies can enhance the effects of the anti-tumour vaccine so that they are also effective in advanced (metastatic) stages of the disease. These antibodies are known as checkpoint inhibitors PD-1 and PD-L-1.

Tumour-specific cytotoxic T-cells migrate to the tumour tissue and trigger a cytotoxic effect. The tumour responds to the attack by releasing a signal that matches the PD-1 receptor of the immune cells. The signal produced by the tumour cells is called PD-1-ligand and causes the onset of programmed cell death in the attacking cytotoxic T-cells. This results in the immune cells no longer being able to perform their function. PD-1 antibodies (Nivolumab / trade name: Opdivo®) and/or PD-L-1 antibodies (Pembrolizumab / trade name: Keytruda®) block the signals inducing programmed cell death. As a result the tumour-destroying immune response can continue successfully.

Improving long-term survival in patients with tumours

These new antibodies are only effective if the immune system has previously been exposed to the tumour cells and identified these as “dangerous”. As the tumour-specific cytotoxic T-cells are usually not present, only a small number of patients could previously benefit from the new checkpoint inhibitor antibody therapy.

Our vaccine increases the chances of the effectiveness of the checkpoint inhibitor antibodies. In turn, the antibody therapy improves the effect of the anti-tumour vaccine in the advanced, metastatic stages of a tumour.

The immune therapies available today make it possible, for the first time, to improve the long-term survival of patients with solid tumours. It is important to plan the therapy in such a way that treatments available in the future can be incorporated. For this reason, part of the tumour material removed during the original resection  should be stored in such a way that it can be used for future treatments.