The development of effective adjuvant therapies for the treatment of high-risk melanoma patients is critical for the prevention of metastatic disease and improvement in patient survival. Active specific immunotherapy has been tested as an adjuvant treatment in numerous clinical trials with limited, but occasionally promising, success rates. Newcastle disease virus oncolysate has been utilized as an adjunctive immunotherapeutic agent in the postsurgical management of these patients.
Physicians at North Shore University Hospital initiated a study in 1975 using adjuvant vaccine therapy composed of allogeneic and autologous human melanoma cells infected with the live Newcastle disease virus in patients with melanoma involving local lymph nodes (stage III) following therapeutic lymph node dissection. Over 60% of treated patients are long-term disease-free survivors after vaccine therapy. This compares favorably with the historical experience with surgery alone. (Patients with regional metastasis to more than one lymph node only treated with surgery alone have a 10-25% survival due to recurrent disease.) In an attempt to understand the immunological effects of this treatment, analysis of peripheral blood T-cells was carried out. The doctors found that improved outcome in patients undergoing immunotherapy is correlated with increased numbers of a specific type of T-cell. This may help identify patients who will benefit by this therapy and also help understand the mechanism of action of vaccination. (
Molecular Medicine, Vol 4, No 12, pp 783-94,1998)
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