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Unexpected Outcome: COVID-19 Vaccination Increases Cancer Treatment Efficiency

Nasopharyngeal cancer patients are frequently given medications that stimulate their immune systems to attack the tumor. Till now, scientists were concerned that vaccination against COVID-19 would worsen side effects or decrease the effectiveness of cancer treatment. Currently, a new study gives this the all-clear. According to the study, patients who received the Sinovac vaccine from China did better with cancer medications than those who did not.

The outcomes of the research, which was carried out by the Universities of Bonn and Shanxi in the People’s Republic of China, are released as a “Letter to the editor” in the Annals of Oncology journal but are already published online.

Most cancer cells can interfere with the immunological response of the body. They achieve this by activating the PD-1 receptor, which acts as a kind of button on immune cells. They successfully disabled these endogenous defensive forces in this manner. PD-1 receptors can be blocked using medications. As a result, the immune system can fight the tumor more efficiently.

The PD-1 receptor is also activated by the COVID vaccine, triggering an immune response. According to Dr. Jian Li of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Experimental Immunology (IMMEI) at the University Hospital Bonn, “It was expected that the vaccination would not be effective with anti-PD-1 therapy. Nasopharyngeal cancer, which affects the upper respiratory tract like the SARS Cov-2 virus, carries a particular risk in the upper respiratory tract.”

The bioinformatician has now examined if this concern is warranted with cooperation partners from the People’s Republic of China. Over 1,500 patients from 23 hospitals across China who were receiving treatment there took part in the study. Due to the wide participant group and the fact that regional differences do not affect the results, these multi-center studies are seen to be useful.

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