What are Dendritic cells and how are they useful?

Dendritic cells are blood cells present in every person’s bloodstream. They function  as an immune cell but are present in small numbers. They identify cancer cells, process them into bits, and jumpstart the immune response by bringing the foreign substance to the attention of the rest of the immune system (T cells). The activated immune system is then able to circulate throughout the body and destroy the cancer cells.

What happens in cancer?

In cancer, the immune system fails; cells of the immune system fail to recognize the cancer cells. The immune system doesn’t “see” tumors as dangerous or foreign, and doesn’t mount a strong attack against them. Another reason  tumors may not stimulate an immune response is that the cancer cells develop ways to escape the immune sytem.

What is DENVAX (Dendritic cell therapy)?

Cancer occurs because the immune system has failed. Numerous researches now prove that this defect in the immune system can be corrected outside the body (ex vivo technology). DENVAX is dendritic cell therapy, which involves the extraction of mononuclear (CD14+) cells from the patient’s own blood, transformation of these cells into cancer-fighting cells and giving back to the patient.

How is DENVAX prepared?

Mononuclear (CD14+) cells are extracted from the patient’s peripheral blood. These cells are cultured, exposed to maturation stimuli and then re-infused into the same patient on the the 8th day of blood collection.

What kind of cancers can be treated by DENVAX therapy?

This includes solid tumors mainly, including cancers of the bladder, bone, brain, breast,  head & neck, gallbladder, kidney, liver, lung, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, stomach, and testicular.

At what cancer stage should a patient consider DENVAX therapy?

A patient may consider DENVAX therapy when:

  • the patient is free of disease but at a risk of recurrence
  • palliation is required
  • patient requires immune-therapy in addition to ongoing chemo/radiation therapy

How are Dendritic cells made to recognize the patient's tumor cells?

Dendritic cells should recognize the patient’s tumor cells and target them once inside the body. But before that they must undergo ‘maturation’. For this the dendritic cells are exposed to tumor antigen-self or non-self.

Who will benefit most from the therapy?

DENVAX works best in patients

  • who opt early during the disease progression;
  • who opt immediately after surgery, when tumor load is minimal.

How is DENVAX administered?

DENVAX is administered as an infusion in 100ml DNS, in twenty minutes.

What are the side effects of DENVAX?

There are minimal side effects. Some patients may experience mild-moderate grade fever after vaccine administration lasting 24-48 hours. Some may experience lethargy/weakness for few days.

Are there any contraindications for this therapy?

There are no contraindications to this therapy.