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CLINICAL TRIAL: Immunotherapy Developed at Roswell Park to Treat Newly Diagnosed Myeloma Patients
Posted: Jun 02, 2016
CLINICAL TRIAL: Immunotherapy Developed at Roswell Park to Treat Newly Diagnosed Myeloma Patients image

Early-stage clinical trial at Roswell Park will assess whether novel SurVaxM vaccine is safe and effective treatment option for patients with multiple myeloma

An immune-based therapy developed at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is moving forward with its third clinical trial. The early-stage clinical trial will assess whether SurVaxM — a cancer vaccine developed at Roswell Park — is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with multiple myeloma, a rare type of blood cancer. The vaccine will be tested in combination with Revlimid (lenalidomide) as maintenance therapy for adults with multiple myeloma.

“Almost all patients with multiple myeloma who go into remission will still have microscopic amounts of disease left following treatment, and this residual cancer eventually can grow back and cause a relapse. It’s a problem compounded by the fact that these patients eventually become resistant to current therapies,” says Kelvin Lee, MD, Jacobs Family Chair of Immunology, who is leading the phase I clinical trial. “But, in combination with oral lenalidomide, which exhibits both immune-modifying and tumoricidal effects, we believe that this vaccine may trigger anti-myeloma immune responses, which may prevent recurrences and eradicate the disease.”

Created by Roswell Park faculty members Robert Fenstermaker, MD, Chair of Neurosurgery, and Michael Ciesielski, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, the SurVaxM vaccine stimulates the immune system to target the survivin protein, which helps cancer cells survive under stressful conditions. SurVaxM was first tested in brain cancer patients, and it may prove effective against other types of cancer as well. A phase I study of SurVaxM in some brain cancers concluded last year, and a phase II study of the vaccine as part of combination treatment for patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma is ongoing at Roswell Park, the Cleveland Clinic and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Vaccines are typically thought of as things to prevent diseases like measles, polio and mumps. But vaccines are a form of immunotherapy that can also be used to treat cancer. They can be used in a therapeutic mode, rather than a preventive mode,” says Dr. Fenstermaker, Chair of Neurosurgery. “And cancer vaccines, in general, tend to have few serious side effects.”

“We are the first team to test this approach as a therapy for multiple myeloma, and it’s very exciting,” adds Dr. Lee, who notes that the study will be conducted in adults whose disease is in remission following completion of standard therapy for multiple myeloma. “The primary purpose of this study is to determine whether this therapy is safe, but our investigations will also allow us to explore new ways of stimulating the immune system to fight cancer cells.”

Roswell Park is partnering on this research with Celgene Corp., manufacturer of Revlimid, and MimiVax LLC, the licensed developer of SurVaxM.

Drs. Ciesielski and Fenstermaker credit early seed funding from donations to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation with moving their vaccine research forward. The Alliance Foundation raises funds on behalf of Roswell Park in support of research and patient-care programs.

This study will accept approximately 18 participants and will actively treat a patient's myeloma. The trial will be located in Buffalo New York. It is for newly-diagnosed myeloma patients who have received at least a partial response from induction therapy.

To learn more about the clinical research study, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or send an e-mail to

Additional details can be found at SparkCures at the link here:

SparkCures Clinical Trial: Peptide Vaccine in Treating Newly Diagnosed Myeloma Patients Receiving Lenalidomide Maintenance Therapy


The author Lizzy Smith

about the author
Lizzy Smith

Lizzy Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in 2012 at age 44. Within days, she left her job, ended her marriage, moved, and entered treatment. "To the extent I'm able, I want to prove that despite life's biggest challenges, it is possible to survive and come out stronger than ever," she says.

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