A new vaccine candidate that might prevent sarcoma, a form of recurring cancer that affects soft tissues, is currently being tested by a California-based company focusing on immunotherapeutic discovery and development.

MabVax Therapeutics, Inc., a company that focuses on developing and commercializing novel vaccines and human antibodies for the treatment of cancer, has reported that it has developed a trivalent vaccine to address the medical requirement of treating sarcoma patients.

The disease usually has a poor prognosis and can spread to multiple organs. The company said the vaccine is administered with another immune boosting agent in a series of 10 under the skin injections given over an 84 week period.

The vaccine targets gangliosides – the most extensively expressed antigen on the cell surface of certain types of cancer. Gangliosides and other carbohydrate antigens are minimally expressed on normal tissues. These are not the targets of other competing therapies.

The ganglioside vaccine will stimulate the body's immune system to create antibodies against the three antigens present on the surface of sarcoma cells. These antibodies will then hunt out and destroy cancer cells circulating in the blood and prevent recurrence of the disease.

The vaccine candidate will be tested for its efficacy and safety to prevent or delay the recurrence of sarcoma in 126 metastatic sarcoma patients.

Osteosarcomas, rhabdomyosarcomas, and other non-rhabdomyosarcomas are high risk sarcomas that occur most commonly in teens and young adults. In Rhabdomyosarcomas, the cancer cells are thought to arise from skeletal muscle progenitors. It can also be found attached to muscle tissue, wrapped around intestines, or in any anatomic location.

Approximately 30 percent of all patients will have metastases or recur with metastatic disease. The prognosis for these patients remains unacceptably poor despite multimodality treatment with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

There are as many as 13,200 sarcoma cases detected each year in the United States, which represents less than one percent of all new cancers. More than 5,200 patients in the United States die of sarcoma each year.

Also, the majority of patients with recurrent sarcoma die as a result of further recurrences. Chemotherapy and surgical resection have not shown to be effective in improving the outcomes in adult patients with sarcoma.