Vaccine Info

NeoVax Cancer Vaccine

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Fact checked by
Robert Carlson, MD


NeoVax is a personalized experimental vaccine designed to recognize cancer-specific proteins, called neoantigens, that are present on the individual’s cancer cells but not on normal cells.


NeoVax is indicated for immunotherapy to fight any tumor cells that could cause the kidney cancer to come back in the future.



The vaccine, known as NeoVax, is based on research at Dana-Farber led by Catherine Wu, M.D.  

David Braun, MD, Ph.D. said that such a vaccine could “steer” the immune response – after being freed by the checkpoint blocker drug – to focus tightly on the cancer cells.

Clinical Trial NCT02950766: A Study Combining NeoVax, a Personalized NeoAntigen Cancer Vaccine, With Ipilimumab to Treat High-risk Renal Cell Carcinoma 

This research study is a Phase I clinical trial, which tests the safety of an investigational kidney cancer vaccine and also tries to define the appropriate dose of the investigational kidney cancer vaccine to use for further studies. 

"Investigational" means that the kidney cancer vaccine, in this case the Personalized Neoantigen Cancer Vaccine, is being studied.

It also means that the FDA (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has not approved the Personalized Cancer Vaccine for any use in patients, including people with kidney cancer.

Poly-ICLC (also called Hiltonol) is an experimental "viral mimic" and an activator of immunity. Poly-ICLC is an investigational drug, meaning the FDA has not approved it as a treatment for any disease.

Personalized NeoAntigen Cancer Vaccine: The purpose of this study is to determine if it is possible to make and administer safely a vaccine against kidney cancer by using information gained from specific characteristics of the participant's own kidney cancer.

It is known that kidney cancers have mutations (changes in genetic material) that are specific to an individual patient and tumor. These mutations can cause the tumor cells to produce proteins that appear very different from the body's own cells. It is possible that these proteins used in a vaccine may induce strong immune responses, which may help the participant's body fight any tumor cells that could cause the kidney cancer to come back in the future.

The study will examine the safety of the vaccine when given at several different time points and will examine the participant's blood cells for signs that the vaccine induced an immune response.

Ipilimumab (Yervoy™) is an antibody that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of melanoma.

In this research study, the investigators are looking at the safety and tolerability of the Personalized NeoAntigen Cancer Vaccine combined with Ipilimumab as well as the body's immune response to the vaccine.

Ipilimumab will be delivered as an injection given underneath the skin rather than injected in the vein in proximity to each vaccination site in order to 1) direct anti-CTLA4 activity to the vaccine-draining lymph nodes and 2) limit potential toxic effects.

Clinical Trials

No clinical trials found