Clinical tests for a therapeutic leukemia vaccine will be carried out this year, according toinformation released at the 2017 International Forum on Precision Medicine andTranslational Medicine. The vaccine is expected to raise the five-year survival rate ofleukemia patients by as much as 20 percent.
Leukemia, also known as blood cancer, is a vicious disease originating from stem cells. Thedisease occurs in about four in 100,000 people, with approximately 40,000 new patientsevery year in China.
According to Li Yuhua, director of the hematology department at Zhujiang Hospitalaffiliated with Southern Medical University, the therapeutic vaccine is for patients whopossess tumors. Chemotherapy helps most leukemia patients, but the best method toprevent relapse is transplantation. However, transplant surgeries are very expensive, andchemotherapy is the only choice for patients who have relapsed after receiving atransplant.
The vaccine was mainly developed for low to mid-risk leukemia patients, such as thosewho can’t withstand chemotherapy and those still in need of relief after receivingchemotherapy. Compared with transplants, which can cost hundreds of thousands of RMBfor one treatment course, the vaccine offers a cost-effective choice.
Though the vaccine can reduce the length of chemotherapy, Li emphasized thatchemotherapy is still the primary treatment for leukemia. Li told the Southern Daily thatclinical tests of the vaccine will be carried out simultaneously in seven hospitals this year. Itis expected to improve the five-year survival rate of leukemia patients by 10 to 20percent, which means that 10 to 20 percent more patients will be able to fully recover.