By using a vaccine patterned after a protein fragment found on some malignant cells, scientists have been able to direct an immune response against ovarian cancer.
The protein fragment, called NY-ESO-1, appears on the surface of tumor cells in about 40 percent of ovarian cancer cases, and also in some other cancers.
In the new study, scientists at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., selected 18 patients who had ovarian cancers that were positive for NY-ESO-1. In most of the volunteers, the cancer had spread beyond the ovaries. All the women had undergone chemotherapy, and their cancers were under control at the time they entered the study, says study coauthor Kunle Odunsi, a gynecologic oncologist at Roswell.