Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph. D., chair of the department of Lymphoma and Myeloma at MD Anderson, who has devoted 20 years to investigating the science of cancer vaccines, specifically a personalized therapy for follicular lymphoma, was named in 2010 as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.
Kwak and a team led by scientists at MD Anderson reported in the online version of Journal of Clinical Oncology that a lymphoma vaccine uniquely tailored for each patient extends disease-free survival by 14 months, with signs of an even better response for patients with a specific biological marker.
"The study continues to show that the vaccine increases the usual time until relapse for follicular lymphoma by about 14 months. That's significant because most cancer drugs are approved on the basis of extending survival only a few months," says Kwak, corresponding author of the study.
Kwak, who invented the vaccine while at the National Cancer Institute says, "These results have the potential to usher in a new age of cancer vaccines. I believe a whole flood of agents will soon begin to show positive results."
The multi-center study is the first successful phase III trial of a lymphoma vaccine and one of the first of a personalized cancer therapy agent. Initial results were presented in part at the Plenary Session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in 2009.