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Fox Chase Cancer Center Physicians Test Vaccine for Colorectal Cancer

PHILADELPHIA (March 28, 2003) — Physicians at Fox Chase Cancer Center are testing an experimental vaccine to determine if it can help stimulate a patient's immune response to metastatic colorectal cancer.

"Typically, vaccines are designed to prevent diseases by preparing the immune system for a possible attack," explained Margaret von Mehren, MD, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center. "The strategy behind therapeutic vaccines is to boost the body's immune system to fight cancer cells that may not be eliminated with traditional cancer treatment.

"The vaccine we're studying in this clinical trial is given in combination with the standard chemotherapy for colorectal cancer that has spread. We want to determine if this vaccine combination gives patients a better outcome than chemotherapy alone. Also, we will closely monitor the safety of the vaccine."

All patients enrolled in the clinical trial will be randomly assigned to receive one of three treatment variations. All patients will receive the standard chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer. Some patients also will receive the vaccine, called ALVAC-CEA/B7.1, before receiving the chemotherapy. Another group of patients will receive the vaccine, the standard chemotherapy and doses of tetanus toxoid to determine whether this additional compound further enhances the immune response. The treatment lasts approximately 28 to 31 weeks.

Patients randomized to receive only the chemotherapy whose cancer partially or fully responds to the treatment will have the option of receiving the vaccine upon completion of the chemotherapy.

In the U.S., colorectal cancer is the third most common site of new cancer cases and deaths in both men and women. There will be an estimated 148,300 new cases and 56,600 deaths from the disease this year.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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