Early results of a trial for a new personalized ovarian cancer vaccine offers hope for the large number of patients who relapse after treatment, Medical News Today reported.

Three-quarters of trial patients who received the new two-step immunotherapy appeared to respond to the treatment – one patient achieved complete remission, said researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Lead study author Lana Kandalaft, a research assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of clinical development and operations in Penn Medicine's Ovarian Cancer Research Center, is presenting the findings on Wednesday at the AACR 2013 Annual Meeting in Washington DC, according to Medical News Today.

"This immunotherapeutic strategy has two steps - dendritic cell vaccination and adoptive T-cell therapy. This is the first time such a combination immunotherapy approach has been used for patients with ovarian cancer,” said Kandalaft, in a statement.

In the study of 31 patients with recurrent, progressive, stage 3 and 4 ovarian cancer, she and her colleagues report that while vaccination therapy alone showed about a 61 percent clinical benefit, the combination of both therapies showed about a 75 percent benefit, said Medical News Today. The vaccine uses the patient’s own tumor cells to teach her immune system to attack the tumor.

Ovarian cancer is often called a “silent killer” because it is hard to spot in its early stages. Symptoms are often mistaken for other common conditions like bloating, constipation, weight gain and more frequent urination.

By the time it is diagnosed, the chances of survival are not good, Medical News Today reported. In the United States, ovarian cancer causes more than 14,000 deaths per year –  and is the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

"Given these grim outcomes, there is definitely a vast unmet need for the development of novel, alternate therapies," said Kandalaft.

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