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Study to assess post-vax COVID-19 antibodies in people with cancer

July 01, 2021

By Pauline Horton

male healthcare worker in mask vaccinating a man

Researchers at The University of Kansas Cancer Center want to understand how vaccination against COVID-19 affects people with cancer who are receiving anticancer therapies.

There are three COVID-19 vaccinations that have received emergency authorization in the U.S., made by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. Clinical trials have demonstrated these vaccines are safe for the general population as well as individuals with underlying medical conditions. However, individuals receiving immunosuppressive and cytotoxic treatments were excluded from these large clinical trials. More research is needed to understand the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in this group.

To help fill in the knowledge gaps between people with cancer and the COVID-19 vaccine, Qamar Khan, M.D., director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center's breast program, launched an investigator-initiated trial called Cancer therapy and Immunogenicity of COVID Vaccine (CANINE, for short). The goal of the study is to build on our early knowledge of how the COVID-19 vaccine works in people with cancer who, depending on the type of treatment they are undergoing, may have a suppressed or over-stimulated immune system.

"Evidence suggests those with cancer are two times more likely to contract COVID-19, and the effects can be far more severe than in people who don't have cancer," Khan said. "Vaccination against the virus is a high priority, but we must work to better understand its immunogenicity, or ability to provoke an immune response, in immunocompromised groups."

Eligible trial participants include those with cancer who are currently receiving or planning to start their treatment within 14 days, or individuals who have undergone a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech require two shots a few weeks apart. A baseline blood draw will be collected prior to their first COVID-19 vaccination. Antibodies will be measured via subsequent blood draws between the first and second vaccine doses, and up to one year after the second dose.

"Many people with cancer are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus," Khan said. "We must understand how a patient's immune system responds to both approved mRNA-based vaccines. This may help us determine the optimum time for an individual with cancer to receive their vaccination, and if additional booster doses are needed in immunosuppressed patients with cancer."

If you'd are interested in participating in the CANINE trial, please email kucccovidresearch@kumc.edu for more information.

Last modified: Aug 05, 2021
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