As reported by Sauk Valley online:
The patient’s head and neck cancer came roaring back, spreading to his lymph nodes and skin, which developed bleeding tumors. Yet, despite a grim prognosis, the man is alive and cancer-free more than 2 years later. In a study led by the University of Pennsylvania and published Friday, researchers hypothesize that his remarkable remission is due to a promising combination: an experimental cancer vaccine that activated his disease-fighting T cells, plus Opdivo, one of the revolutionary “checkpoint inhibitor” drugs that cut a brake on the immune system.
“Of course, I’m biased,” said Charu Aggarwal, the Penn oncologist who led the study. “In my career, I haven’t seen a vaccine as impactful as this.” However, the remission may have been due to Opdivo alone; the study lacks data to rule out that possibility. Robert Ferris, a head and neck surgeon at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who headed the pivotal study leading to approval of Opdivo, called the Penn-led study “an important intermediate step exploring a strategy that we hope will work.”