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Latest Updates from the Vaccine Research Collaborative

28th Jan 2022 - Rachel Kahn

United Kingdom

Welcome to our live blog all about research looking at the effectiveness of the covid vaccines in people with blood cancer.

Friday 28th January

New data looking at the ability for blood cancer patients to destroy Omicron

A study called CAPTURE, run out of the Francis Crick Institute in London has recently published data looking at how well people with blood cancer are able to destroy the Omicron Covid variant. For people with blood cancer, if they’d had two doses of the Covid vaccine, only 19% could neutralise Omicron, but a third dose increased this to 56% of people with blood cancer, clearly showing the benefit of boosting. It is hoped that a fourth dose may increase this proportion even further. Those who had anti-CD20 treatment in the previous 12 months were unlikely to have antibodies against Omicron, although this was only based on data from 10 people. Those who had active disease were also less likely to develop antibodies than those who were in remission from their disease.

The team also looked at four people who developed Covid after two vaccine doses. None of these people had antibodies against Omicron or Delta before infection, and their symptoms of Covid were mild, suggesting there are other factors helping these people fight infection. After Covid infection, all of these people had protective antibodies against Omicron.

Monday 17th January 2022

Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Collaborative announce funding for a new antibody study called MELODY

The Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Collaborative has awarded funds to a study called MELODY, which will look at how many people with blood cancer have antibodies to Covid following vaccination.

They will then look at who goes on to develop Covid to work out what antibodies are a good indicator of protection from Covid. The study will randomly select 12,000 people with blood cancer that affects their lymphoid cells (T cells or B cells) and there individuals will be sent a letter asking them whether they would like to take part in the study.

If they agree to take part, they will be sent an antibody test to do at home and will be asked to fill in a short questionnaire. The test will give a "yes" or "no" answer in relation to whether someone has antibodies and will not tell someone what level of antibodies they have. The hope is that this study will help us to understand who is left most vulnerable to Covid following vaccination. Clinicians and policy makers will use the information to understand how we can protect the most vulnerable from Covid.

There is more information about MELODY on the trial website. Learn more about how people are selected and invited in The MELODY Study Fair Processing Notice

Monday 10th January 2022

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society join the Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Collaborative

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) in the US has joined the Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Collaborate alongside Anthony Nolan, Myeloma UK and the British Society for Haematology. The aim of this group is to understand response to the Covid vaccine in people with blood cancer. LLS has funded Dr Piers Patten from King’s College, London, to look at vaccine response in people with blood cancer and to look at what happens when people with blood cancer get Covid and how their immune system responds to the virus. The hope is that this work may reveal possible ways to both treat blood cancer patients who develop Covid and will help us understand how we can protect people who are at risk of not developing a normal response to COVID-19 vaccines.

Thursday 11th November

The Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Collaborative announce new funding for OCTAVE-DUO

The Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Collaborative have awarded funds to Dr Thushan de Silva from the University of Birmingham to broaden who can be recruited to a study called OCTAVE DUO. OCTAVE-DUO is a study looking at immune response to vaccination. It includes people who have had a low antibody response or no antibody response to the first two vaccine doses, and studies the effect of an additional dose in these people. The funds will mean the study will now include 160 people who have had a stem cell transplant and 80 people who have received CAR-T cell therapy. The work will help researchers understand whether additional vaccine doses can increase the number of people with blood cancer producing an immune response to the Covid vaccines.

Friday 29th October

Vaccine effectiveness in people with myeloma

Dr Karthik Ramasamy has published data looking at the effectiveness if the Covid vaccines in 214 people with myeloma or smouldering myeloma. They found that following two vaccine doses, 92.7% of people had an antibody response and 61.4% of people had a T cell response. If people had a partial response to treatment, had stable disease, progressive disease or had relapsed, they were likely to produce a lower level of antibodies to the vaccines and were also less likely to produce a T cell response. Men also seemed to develop lower levels of antibodies following vaccination than women and if people were receiving chemotherapy, they also more commonly produced lower levels of antibodies. People who had an antibody response were more likely to also have a T cell response. This is an interesting study and it’s positive that there a good number of people with myeloma included. While we still don’t know exactly what means you “will” or “will not” be protected from Covid, it’s positive to see such a high number of people producing an antibody response to the vaccinations. You can read more about vaccine effectiveness studies on our health information pages.

Vaccine effectiveness in people who have received an allogenic transplant

Dr Hugues de Lavallade has published data looking at vaccine effectiveness in 23 people who had received an allogenic stem cell transplant between 19 and 172 months prior to vaccination. After one dose of the vaccine, antibodies were detected in 39% of people which rose to 81% after two vaccine doses. The team looked at 17 people to see if they developed T cells. After one dose, 35.3% developed a T cell response to vaccination, which rose to 82.3% following two vaccine doses. This study clearly shows the benefit of additional vaccine doses in this patient population and indicates that after a third dose, even more people may produce a vaccine response. You can read more about vaccine effectiveness studies on our health information pages.

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Friday 22nd October

Further results on vaccine effectiveness in people with blood cancer – SOAP-02

Vaccine effectiveness in people with CLL

Back in March, we received the first study looking at the effectiveness of the first vaccine dose in 56 people with blood cancer. Today, follow-up results have been published which include details of vaccine effectiveness in 51 people with blood cancer following both vaccine doses. This group includes a number of people with different types of blood cancer making the results more difficult to interpret, but the team found that following both vaccines, only 43% of people developed an antibody response. They also found that if someone was less likely to produce an antibody response if they received treatment in the 15 days prior to vaccination. 70% of people with blood cancer developed a T cell response which is another measure of vaccine response and may provide some protection from Covid.

Interestingly, this team of researchers were able to compare if the interval between vaccine doses affected someone’s response to vaccination. They found that delaying the second vaccine to twelve weeks, instead of 3 weeks as it was initially, showed no obvious added benefits for people with cancer.

The study shows the importance of people with blood cancer to continue being cautious. What it did show was a clear increase in antibody response between the first and second vaccine doses (13% to 47%), which gives us real reason to believe that a third vaccine dose will allow even more people to develop an antibody response.

You can read more about vaccine effectiveness studies on our health information pages.

Dr Helen Parry from the University of Birmingham has today published further results looking at vaccine effectiveness in people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). The team studied 500 people with CLL following both of their vaccine doses and found that 67% of them developed an antibody response to vaccination. Having said this, the number of antibodies seen in the blood of people with CLL was 3.7 times lower than what was seen in people without CLL. We don’t yet know how many antibodies you need to fight Covid so at this stage, it’s not fully known what this means. Dr Parry looked at whether these antibodies were able to destroy Covid in the lab and while most of them were good at destroying the original variant of Covid, the antibodies were less able to destroy the Delta variant, which is the dominant variant in the UK at the moment.

The team found that if you were male, on treatment such as BTKi’s or antibiotics, or had low levels of other antibodies in your blood, you were less likely to produce an antibody response.

You can read more about vaccine effectiveness studies on our health information pages.

Monday 20th September

Launch of the National COVID cancer antibody survey

A study has been launched today that will look at antibody response to vaccination in 10,000 people with cancer to try and understand who remains most at risk to COVID. The project will use these results and link them to health records to work out if there are certain diseases or cancer treatments that affect how people respond to the COVID vaccines. Those who decide to take part will receive an at home antibody kit and will be asked to give a finger-prick blood sample which will then be analysed in a lab. All results will be sent back. To take part in the study, you have to be over 18 and live in England, have been diagnosed with cancer in the last year, or you have to be receiving treatment.

To take part in the study, visit the Covid Cancer Survey

The Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Research Collaborative have recently awarded funding to Dr Lenard Lee, to support this study.

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Tuesday 24th August

Results from OCTAVE published

Results from a study called OCTAVE which looked at vaccine response in people who are immunocompromised has been published. The study looked at 18 people with either myeloma or acute myeloid leukaemia and found that 33% had a lower antibody response than people without blood cancer. The study also looked at 42 people who had previously had a stem cell transplant and found that 17% had a lower antibody response than people without blood cancer. The levels of T cells generated after vaccination were similar in people who were immunocompromised as in those without blood cancer. You can read more about this study on our health information pages.

Tuesday 20th July

Antibody response to two vaccines in people with B-cell blood cancers

Professor Emma Morris and her team have published a study looking at antibody response in 55 people with blood cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia. The team found that 36% of people had antibodies after one vaccine dose, which rose to 42% after two doses. You can read more about the studies findings on our health information pages [Leukaemia and covid vaccine efficacy / Study on B cell blood cancers - ALL, CLL, high-grade NHL, low-grade NHL, WM].

Friday 18th June

Antibody responses after one dose for people with CML, MPN and MDS

A new study has looked at antibody response in people with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). There were 59 people who took part in the trial and 71% were on treatment. Overall, after one dose of the vaccine, 58% of people developed an antibody response, compared to 97% of healthy adults. You can find a detailed breakdown of antibody response by disease type on our health information pages.

Monday 14th June

Antibody response to vaccination in people with lymphoma

A recent study looked at antibody response to two doses of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine in 129 people with lymphoma. The study, supported by the Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Collaborative, found that people who live with lymphoma who were not on treatment were more likely to produce an antibody response than those who were receiving treatment. However, of those not receiving any treatment, those with slow growing lymphomas like follicular lymphoma, were less likely to produce an antibody response than those who had previously been treated for aggressive lymphomas like Hodgkin lymphoma. Click here to read more.

Antibody response after two doses of the vaccine in people with CLL

Friday 28th May

A study from the University of Birmingham has been published looking at antibody response to covid vaccinations in 299 people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who had two doses of either the Pfizer or AstaZeneca vaccine. 13 of these people had their first and second vaccines three weeks apart and the rest waited 12 weeks. The team found that after one dose of the vaccine, 34% of people with CLL had an antibody response to vaccination which rose to 75% after the second vaccination. In comparison, 100% of health donors had an antibody response after the two doses of the vaccine. Whilst 75% of people developed an antibody response, the actual quantity of antibodies produced was lower compared to those who were healthy. Those who were receiving a BTK inhibitor as treatment for their CLL were less likely to develop antibodies, as were those who had an “IgA deficiency” which is a deficiency of one kind of antibody that is characteristic of CLL. Visit our vaccine efficacy health information page to understand more about this study and others.

Antibody and T cell response in people with MPNs after one dose of the Pfizer vaccine

A new study has looked at antibody and T cell response to the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in 21 people with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). The study showed that 76% of people developed antibodies and 80% of people had some kind of “memory T cell” response which are cells which “remember” their first encounter with the vaccine so they’re able to fight covid if they were ever to encounter it. The study found that people with myelofibrosis (MF) tended to produce a higher quantity of antibodies, although four of these people were thought to be infected in the past which could play a role. The team didn’t find anything to suggest treatment had an impact on vaccine response. Visit our vaccine efficacy health information page to understand more about this study and others.

Wednesday 26th May

The Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Research Collaborative have announced funding for a further eight studies that will look at vaccine effectiveness in people with blood cancer. The research will mean we will be able to give people with blood cancer the answers they need to make more informed decisions about their level of risk from the virus.

Monday 17th May 2021

American blood cancer vaccine study

A new study, published by scientists in America, looked at antibody response in 67 people with blood cancer who had received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer covid vaccines. 36 people did have an antibody response following vaccination but 31 did not. The team also found that older people were less likely to produce an antibody response to the vaccine. The majority of people who took part in the study had either chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), lymphoma or multiple myeloma. The team found that people with CLL were the least likely to produce an antibody response to the vaccine.

As with many of these studies, this study is small and only looks at antibody response to vaccination. When you look at individual diseases included in this study, the numbers become even smaller. This small study is important and interesting, and we need bigger studies that look at vaccine response in specific types of blood cancer.

CLL study from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York

In this study, researchers looked at 44 people with CLL who had two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. They found that 52% of people developed antibodies 21 days after their second vaccination. Those who hadn't had any treatment for their disease and those under the age of 70 were most likely to develop antibodies. 94% of people who had never had any treatment developed antibodies, compared to just 23% people who had received treatment. This fell even more in people who had received treatments in the last 12 months. These are interesting initial findings that indicate how treatment might affect vaccine response. Although we need studies that include larger numbers of people, it's important that people with blood cancer remain cautious.

Tuesday 11th May 2021

Funding awarded to Dr Sean Lim to look at vaccine effectiveness in people with lymphoma

The Blood Cancer UK Research Collaborative have funded their first vaccine research study, that will look at how effective the Covid vaccines are in 680 people with lymphoma. The study is called Prospective Observational Study Evaluating COVID-19 Vaccine Immune Responses in Lymphoid Cancer (PROSECO) and will involve taking blood samples from people with lymphoma who have been vaccinated and look at how their immune systems have responded.

The trial is recruiting patients in Southampton, Oxford, Nottingham, Leicester, Portsmouth and Norwich, and will soon start recruiting in Newcastle. People with lymphoma who live in or near these cities can talk to their clinician about taking part.

The Blood Cancer UK Vaccine Research Collaborative, is a collaboration led by Blood Cancer UK in partnership with Anthony Nolan, Myeloma UK and the British Society for Haematology.

Tuesday 27th April 2021

PROSECO – a study looking at vaccine effectiveness in people with lymphoma

A study called PROSECO is looking for people with lymphoma to take part in a vaccine effectiveness trial. If you have a lymphoma and either not had your first or second dose of Covid vaccine, or if you’ve had your second dose less than 4 weeks ago, you might be eligible.

The trial would involve taking a blood sample 2-4 weeks, 6 months and 9 months after the second dose of your vaccine, and if we haven’t missed it, before and 4 weeks after you’ve had your first dose of vaccine.

If you’re a lymphoma patient at one of the following hospitals, please speak to you clinician to discuss taking part in the trial: University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, John Radcliff Hospital, Oxford or the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.

Those who are not a patient at one of these hospitals are unlikely to be part of the trial at this stage, but we will update people if new hospitals start accepting patients.

Please note, no individual results will be given to people who take part in this research. Rather, it will feed into a wide study which will help us understand the effectiveness of people in blood cancer.

What is PROSECO?

PROSECO stands for The Prospective Observational Study Evaluating COVID-19 Vaccine Immune Responses in Lymphoid Cancer (PROSECO)

Dr Sean Lim from the University of Southampton wants to understand how people with lymphoma respond to the Covid vaccines. She aims to look at 680 people with lymphoma (both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin) and will look at their immune response at several time points to understand what someone’s peak response to vaccination is, and how long this response lasts.

There are two key things to look for to understand how much protection someone has received from a vaccine and these are antibody and T cell response. These are both parts of our immune system that are involved in mounting a response to vaccination. Dr Sean Lim will study both of these things to try and understand how much protection people with lymphoma receive from the covid vaccine.

Monday 26th April 2021

News on vaccine effectiveness in people with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

A new, small study looked at vaccine effectiveness in 16 people with CML. The team looked at both antibody and T cell response, both thought to be important for providing protection from covid. The results were positive, with 88% of people developing antibodies and 93% developing T cells at 21 days after their first vaccination. The study is small and only looked at people who had received the Pfizer vaccine, but these results are promising for people with CML.

All of the people who took part in the study were receiving TKI’s as part of their treatment and this study is the first to show that despite receiving a TKI, people with CML still produce a strong response to the Covid vaccine.

Larger studies which look at vaccine response to the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines after people receive both doses are now needed.

Thursday 22nd April 2021

Here, you’ll be able to find out about the research projects we will fund thanks to your generous donations. You’ll also be able to find out about the latest data from studies looking at how much protection the vaccines offer to people with blood cancer.

What we know so far

The SOAP study

The research looks at vaccine response in 205 people who received the Pfizer vaccine. Of these, 151 had cancer and 56 had blood cancer. After one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, an antibody response was only seen in 13% of people with blood cancer and a T cell response was seen in 50%, this was lower than people who had solid tumours. The number this study looked at was small and therefore we cannot conclude much from this research. Further research is needed to better define the response to vaccines in specific cohorts of people with blood cancer.

The Royal Marsden study

This study specifically looked at vaccine effectiveness in people with myeloma. They looked at antibody response after one dose of either of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine. 70% of people with myeloma had an antibody response 21 days or more post vaccination.

The Israeli CLL study

This study looked at 167 people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia who had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine 21 days apart. Of these 167 people, an antibody response was only seen in 39.5%. Those who were in remission following treatment had a better response than those who were on active treatment. While these results are worrying, it's important to remember that antibody response is only one piece of the puzzle and other factors which weren't measured in this study, might also be important in protecting people from covid. More research is needed to understand this.

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