Keith and Faith Taylor Cancer Research Laboratories

We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the Taylor family, long-term supporters of the Malaghan Institute, for making this specialised facility possible.

A GMP laboratory is more sterile than an operating theatre and has many features that set it apart from other laboratories. By increasing the number of our GMP certified laboratories, we have significantly enhanced our capacity to undertake clinical trials of vaccine therapies against cancer.

evelyn keith faith

Melanoma vaccine

One of our cancer vaccines is tailor-made from a patient's own cells and so requires the use of GMP facilities.

Once we receive a patient's tumour biopsy from the Wellington Cancer Centre, we evaluate the tumour to determine whether or not there are sufficient usable cells in the sample for preparing a vaccine. If there are, the tumour cells are killed by irradiation so that they cannot cause further cancer when injected back into the patient.

The killed tumour cells are then ‘fed to dendritic cells, grown from the patient's own blood, which digest the tumour into tiny pieces that can be recognised by the immune system. This vaccine is then injected back into the patient, where the dendritic cells present the tumour pieces to the patient's T cells and instruct them to hunt out and destroy the tumour. Each patient receives multiple vaccinations to ensure that the immune system is fully informed about the task it has to perform.

Commenting on clinical trials

We are unable to comment on a clinical trial while it is underway. Only when the study is complete will researchers have access to all of the data to interpret the results. This interpretation is then subjected to further review by international experts before it can be made public, usually in the form of a scientific publication. None of the clinicians or researchers involved can comment publicly until results are published.

When a treatment developed at the Malaghan Institute is tested in patients, it is assessed by a formal clinical trial process by our clinical colleagues in a hospital setting. The trial is managed by a committee of experienced clinical researchers from throughout New Zealand. Data on the safety and efficacy of the new treatment is monitored by another independent group of experts (a data monitoring committee), who ensure that the information is collected in an ethical and unbiased manner.