Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Clinical Trial

01 November 1998

With funding support from Sir Roy McKenzie, and clinical support from Assoc Prof John Carter and the Wellington Cancer Centre, Haematologist Dr David Ritchie initiated a phase I/II clinical trial for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the Malaghan Institute in 1998.

The aim of the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma clinical trial was to test the feasibility, safety and efficacy of the dendritic cell cancer vaccine. Tumours were surgically removed from the patient and treated with a mild acid to isolate protein fragments from the surface of the tumour cells. The protein fragments were then loaded onto dendritic cells cultured from the patients' own blood, and the dendritic cell vaccine thus created was then injected back into the patients. This treatment was repeated four times. Of the ten patients involved in the trial, two showed a positive clinical response to the treatment. Furthermore, no toxic effects were reported in any of the patients involved in the trial suggesting that the treatment was well tolerated. Importantly, this study showed that dendritic cell vaccines can be successfully produced from patients with advanced disease, supporting the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancers such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The skills and knowledge developed at the Malaghan Institute as a result of the phase I/II clinical trial made it possible for the Institute to participate in other collaborative cancer vaccine studies.