A vaccine to prevent lung cancer?


Researchers at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center are taking the next steps with a lung cancer vaccine. The groundbreaking lung cancer immunotherapy drug CIMAvax-EGF, which has shown promise in the treatment of lung cancer, is now being studied in the prevention of the disease, specifically in those most at risk for developing lung cancer or experiencing a recurrence.

“The way it works with lung cancer is the CIMAvax attaches itself to a circulating protein called epidermal growth factor (EGF),” explains Mary Reid, BSN, MSPH, PhD, Chief of Cancer Screening, Survivorship and Mentorship at Roswell Park. “We have strong preliminary evidence that this stalls the growth of lung tumors.” The purpose of this new study is to determine if CIMAvax can be used to change these biomarkers in the lungs and decrease an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer.

Who can participate?

Adults between the ages of 50-79 are eligible to participate in this trial. From this group, the study is split into two smaller groups:

  • Group 1 — People who have never had lung cancer but are considered high risk due to:
    • A high smoking history (at least one pack a day for 30 years)
    • A family history of lung cancer
    • Diagnosis of COPD or pneumonia within the last five years
    • Occupational history to substances such as asbestos or radon
  • Group 2 — People who have been diagnosed with lung cancer (up to stage 3A), have completed treatment for at least three months, and have shown no evidence of disease within six months of starting treatment.

What does this study involve?

Those eligible and willing to participate will have to undergo a complete screening period beforehand, with procedures including bronchoscopy, pulmonary function test, chest CT scan and a complete physical, which includes blood tests, nasal swabs and a full health history check.

Once qualified, four doses of CIMAvax vaccine are injected intramuscularly; one in each arm and one in each leg. Patients will undergo this injection every two weeks for two months, followed by monthly treatment.

During the study, blood and nasal brush samples will be taken at multiple times, as well as low-dose CT scans at the beginning and end of the study. A research bronchoscopy will be performed by Roswell Park’s interventional pulmonology experts at the beginning, three months in, and when the study is complete to track any changes and reaction within the lungs to the vaccine.

Thanks to the historic partnership between Roswell Park and Cuba’s Centro de Inmunolgía Molecular (CIM), we know that CIMAvax is safe and shows potential in suppressing the EGF protein – the lowering of this protein has potential to lower the risk of developing lung cancer.

All testing will take place at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in downtown Buffalo, in our Clinical Research Center. If you are interested in learning more or participating, contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email Bridget Fleissner at Bridget.Fleissner@RoswellPark.org. This study is supported by donations to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. 

“Lung cancer is personal. My father who never smoked a day in his life died from lung cancer in 1984. This, plus a history of smoking, puts me in the high-risk category of getting lung cancer myself. I'm hoping CIMAvax prevents that from happening.”

— Patient enrolled in study

Learn more about CIMAvax Read the press release