STAT

In a small study, a cancer vaccine assist beats immunotherapy drugs alone

The largest study to date of a "cancer vaccine" found that combining it with an immunotherapy drug kept patients’ tumors in check longer, on average, than the drug alone.

The largest study to date of a “cancer vaccine” plus one of the immunotherapy drugs that has revolutionized cancer treatment found that they kept patients’ tumors in check longer, on average, than drugs alone, but that the benefit was still only a few months for two forms of cancer, study sponsor Neon Therapeutics reported on Monday.

It was a hint that an experimental therapy often described as the next great hope for immune-based approaches to fighting cancer will not be a silver bullet.

In the study, the 21 patients with metastatic bladder cancer, and the 27 with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, had a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 5.6 months, meaning half saw their tumors grow or spread before that time.

The 34 metastatic melanoma patients did dramatically better: After 13.4 months, the

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