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Three terminal cancer patients see their disease 'VANISH' thanks to experimental vaccine that melts away tumors in months and trains body to seek and destroy the disease

Cancer vaccine 'cure': Three terminal patients put in remission by experimental shot

‘My doctor, of course, hated that answer and so the next day called me and said, "there's a clinical trial starting and I think it would be great for you."’

Ms Gangi was put on a last-resort trial in New York for patients whose cancers have spread around the body and become virtually incurable, known as 'metastatic'. 

She was one of 10 patients in the study, alongside William Morrison, 53, and Anna Bochenski, 51, who are either in partial or complete remission, despite being given just years to live.

They were given a vaccine — developed at the famous Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan, New York — that rapidly melts away the primary tumor and teaches the body to hunt and kill cancer cells that have spread elsewhere.

Stephanie Gangi, 66, had a tumor that was starting to show on her chest, and stopped wearing t-shirts as a result. Being injected into that tumor was 'pretty harrowing', she said
William Morrison, 53, with his beloved dog after the clinical trial was over

After a 20-plus-year battle with cancer and 12 brutal rounds of surgery and treatment, Stephanie Gangi was ready to give up.

When doctors found a new tumor the size of a grapefruit on her adrenal gland last summer, neither her mind nor body could take another course of chemotherapy. 

To the shock of her two daughters and healthcare providers, the novelist, 66, declined further medical treatment. 'I decided to see what happens; just take my chances,' she told DailyMail.com

Stephanie Gangi, 66, (pictured left) had a tumor on her chest, and stopped wearing t-shirts as a result. 'Being injected into that tumor was 'pretty harrowing', she said. William Morrison, 53, (pictured right) with his beloved dog after the clinical trial was over

Ms Gangi was given the injection directly into the large tumor that protruded from her sternum. The tumor had prevented her from wearing tops that showed her chest for years.

Within two months, the mass was completely flattened, and she celebrated being completely cancer-free at her daughter's wedding earlier this year.

She said: ‘It's hard to even wrap my head around it. I have had cancer for a very long time so it's not just snap my fingers and have it not be present for me. I do get the same old "scanxiety" when I’m due for a test.'

‘I keep wondering, did it really work? Is it coming back? What's happening? …But I feel great and am very grateful,’ Ms Gangi said. It is the first time in over ten years she has been medication-free.

My doctor, of course, hated that answer and so the next day called me and said, "there's a clinical trial starting and I think it would be great for you."’

Ms Gangi was put on a last-resort trial in New York for patients whose cancers have spread around the body and become virtually incurable, known as 'metastatic'. 

She was one of 10 patients in the study, alongside William Morrison, 53, and Anna Bochenski, 51, who are either in partial or complete remission, despite being given just years to live.

They were given a vaccine — developed at the famous Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan, New York — that rapidly melts away the primary tumor and teaches the body to hunt and kill cancer cells that have spread elsewhere.

Stephanie Gangi, 66, had a tumor that was starting to show on her chest, and stopped wearing t-shirts as a result. Being injected into that tumor was 'pretty harrowing', she said
William Morrison, 53, with his beloved dog after the clinical trial was over

Stephanie Gangi, 66, (pictured left) had a tumor on her chest, and stopped wearing t-shirts as a result. 'Being injected into that tumor was 'pretty harrowing', she said. William Morrison, 53, (pictured right) with his beloved dog after the clinical trial was over

Ms Gangi was given the injection directly into the large tumor that protruded from her sternum. The tumor had prevented her from wearing tops that showed her chest for years.

Within two months, the mass was completely flattened, and she celebrated being completely cancer-free at her daughter's wedding earlier this year.

She said: ‘It's hard to even wrap my head around it. I have had cancer for a very long time so it's not just snap my fingers and have it not be present for me. I do get the same old "scanxiety" when I’m due for a test.'

‘I keep wondering, did it really work? Is it coming back? What's happening? …But I feel great and am very grateful,’ Ms Gangi said. It is the first time in over ten years she has been medication-free.

Dr Thomas Marron — who is part of the team that have devoted the last decade to creating the vaccine — said ‘it was like winning the lottery' when he saw the scan showing Ms Gangi's adrenal tumor had gone. 
He added: 'That was the tumor that most likely would eventually have taken her life.’ 
People diagnosed with metastatic cancer often have very poor survival chances. With some cancers, the five-year survival rate is just six percent, according to the Mayo Clinic. The vaccine is injected directly into tumors, meaning only patients with external cancerous masses can currently benefit. 
It contains a higher dose of a naturally occurring protein that rapidly multiplies levels of dendritic cells in the body - also known as 'professor' cells. They kill the tumor and teach T cells in the body to be on the lookout for rogue cancer cells that have spread elsewhere.
The new vaccine is among hundreds of experimental cancer vaccines and medicines in early trials.

The vaccine therapy has four components. Firstly, four small doses of radiation over two days kill some of the tumor cells. This creates dead matter — an essential element for most vaccines. The patient is then injected with Flt3 ligand (Flt3L) to increase the number of 'professor' cells produced by the body and a fake virus to switch on the 'professor' cells. They will destroy the tumor cells and teach the T cells what to be on the lookout for. The T cells will then look for other tumor cells in the body

The vaccine therapy has four components. Firstly, four small doses of radiation over two days kill some of the tumor cells. This creates dead matter — an essential element for most vaccines. The patient is then injected with Flt3 ligand (Flt3L) to increase the number of 'professor' cells produced by the body and a fake virus to switch on the 'professor' cells. They will destroy the tumor cells and teach the T cells what to be on the lookout for. The T cells will then look for other tumor cells in the body

How does the new cancer vaccine work? 

The vaccine is injected into an existing tumor in the patient’s body, and teaches the immune system to recognize and kill not only that tumor, but also tumors elsewhere in the body.

The treatment is made up of four components.

First, patients receive four small doses of radiation over two days to kill some cancerous tumor cells.

This creates the dead matter — a key part of most vaccines - so it can learn how to fight the real thing.

They also receive an injection of Flt3 ligand (Flt3L) into their tumor daily for nine days.

This is a protein naturally made by humans every day to make various cell types, including 'professor' cells. 

Patients receive a ramped-up dose, meaning the protein can make ten to a hundred times more dendritic cells or ‘professor’ cells. 

Patients’ tumors are injected with poly-ICLC, a fake virus that activates the ‘professor’ cells, eight times over six weeks.

The ‘professor’ cells will gobble up the tumor, and then teach the T cells what to be on the lookout for.

With the knowledge of spotting and killing patient's tumors, the T cells will travel around the body and destroy any other tumor cells they come across.  

On day 23, patients start to receive the final component, pembrolizumab, given every three weeks for eight treatments.

This is an FDA-approved immunotherapy treatment, which takes the brakes off the body’s immune system and allows it to kill tumor cells. 

Some utilize mRNA technology pioneered during the Covid pandemic and involve a unique shot that are entirely individualized and made from scratch for each patient. These can take months to make and cost around $100,000 per shot.

But the Mount Sinai candidate uses the same vaccine for each patient, meaning once doctors have perfected the shot, it can be rolled out to the mass market.  

The chemicals involved are also cheap to make. Dr Brody said: 'The ones we use cost pennies to dollars.' Although technically a vaccine, the treatment in its current form is given in 17 doses and alongside eight immunotherapy injections.

Dr Brody and Dr Marron hope to reduce the number of shots given to patients in the coming months.

After receiving the experimental vaccine, two other patients — Mr Morrison and Ms Bochenski — have also gone into complete and partial remission.

Mr Morrison, a clinical technician from New York, was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2017.

Things turned for the worst in 2018, when his cancer became more aggressive and spread to his groin and neck.

He had been enrolled in a trial of an earlier version of the Mount Sinai vaccine but did not respond. The father-of-two was put into remission briefly with chemo in 2019, but the cancer returned just as the pandemic hit.

Feeling 'disheartened' by the new diagnosis, he agreed to trial a new and improved version of the experimental shot in the summer of 2020. Within six months, his tumors had cleared entirely.

Mr Morrison has been in remission ever since, and said it felt like 'the weight had been lifted from my shoulders'.

Ms Bochenski was struck with breast cancer in 2014, and embarked on rounds of chemo and surgery. In 2018, a tennis-ball-sized tumor appeared in her armpit, and the cancer also spread to her chest lymph nodes.

Her side effects from the cancer vaccine in January 2021 were intense and left her 'trembling to the point that I couldn't hold a cup of tea'.

But the tumor under her arm disappeared and the treatment put her in partial remission.

Ms Bochenski said: ‘If I didn’t take the clinical trial, I would have been dead in 2021.’

The new vaccine is not for the faint-hearted. In total, patients receive 17 injections into the tumor, and a further eight into their arm over six months.

Anna Bochenski, 51, after six months of fortnightly chemotherapy and a double mastectomy in November 2014
Ms Bochenski in 2012, two years before she was diagnosed with breast cancer

Anna Bochenski, 51, (pictured left) after she had been through six months of fortnightly chemotherapy and a double mastectomy in November 2014. She is pictured on the right in 2012, two years before she was diagnosed with breast cancer

he therapy is split into four phases.

First, patients receive four small doses of radiation over two days to kill some cancerous tumor cells. 

This creates dead matter in the tumor site. Dr Marron told DailyMail.com: 'You use that to create a vaccine that will hopefully teach your immune system to recognize and kill not only that tumor you’re treating but also tumors elsewhere in the body.

‘If you think about the flu shot. The flu shot has two things in it. It has dead flu. This is basically the thing you’re trying to teach your immune system to recognize and kill. So it kills it right now but it also develops the memories that protect you from flu for the rest of your life.' 

The treatment consists of administering a series of immune stimulants directly into one tumor site.

The first stimulant recruits critical immune cells called dendritic cells that act like generals of the immune army. 

The second stimulant activates the dendritic, or 'professor' cells, which then instruct T cells, the immune system’s soldiers, to kill cancer cells and spare non-cancer cells. 

This immune army learns to recognize features of the tumor cells so it can seek them out and destroy them throughout the body, essentially turning the tumor into a cancer vaccine factory. 

With the knowledge of how to spot and kill patient's tumors, the T cells will travel around the body and destroy any other tumor cells they come across.  

On day 23, patients receive the final component, pembrolizumab, given every three weeks for eight treatments.

This is an FDA-approved immunotherapy treatment, which takes the brakes off the body’s immune system and allows it to kill tumor cells. 

Dr Brody said they are looking at ways of reducing the number of vaccines, so they could give one injection that would be the equivalent of nine.

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