Onco-Vac: Vaccination against Covid-19 in cancer patients under active treatment - SARS-Cov-2 specific cellular immunity

Updated 15/09/2023

Partner in BelCoVac consortium

Vaxinfectio groups involved

Laboratory of Experimental Hematology – VAXINFECTIO (Prof. Eva Lion)

A short project description

COVID-19 is a disease caused by an infectious outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. This viral SARS-CoV-2 infection can present itself in a broad spectrum of clinical features, ranging from asymptomatic, sensation of a mild cold or flu to severe bilateral pneumonia and death. Cancer patients are at high risk to develop serious illness after infection with SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, it is of high importance to protect these patients by following hygiene measurements and social distancing. But, as indicated by the guidelines of the Belgian and European Society for Medical Oncology, it is also important to vaccinate cancer patients. Although, not many studies that elevated the vaccine efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in cancer patients have been performed. Due to the cancer or the treatment, it could be possible that the efficacy of the vaccines is lower in cancer patients or that they develop more side effects as a result of vaccination. To investigate this, we will monitor the reaction of the immune system of current and ex oncological and haematological patients on the different COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutica). The adverse effects as a reaction on vaccination will be investigated in this population as well.

Clinical data of the patients will be collected and a blood drawn will be performed at different time points: before vaccination and after vaccination doses. The primary endpoint of the study is the quantification of different anti SARS-CoV-2 specific IgG antibodies per study cohort after the vaccinations. The secondary endpoints of the study are to measure the SARS-Cov-2 specific T cell response and to investigate the evolution and duration of the cellular immune response after vaccination in the patient cohort. Another secondary endpoint is to longitudinally analyse the titers of neutralizing antibodies. Furthermore, it is aimed to investigate the efficacy of the immune response in the patient cohort for each different vaccine. This will be assessed by the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate based on information collected through questionnaires on incidence of (PCR-confirmed or chest CT scan confirmed) SARS-CoV-2 infection within a time frame of 12 months after the start of the study. At last, we will investigate the safety of the different COVID-19 vaccines that are commercially available in Belgium. Safety will be reported in terms of incidence and severity of adverse effects (AEs) using a questionnaire. Patients will be asked to report their adverse events over a period of 3 days after the vaccination day.

This research project will provide knowledge on how the immune reaction after vaccination develops in cancer patients and patients with oncological or haematological history.

The team of prof Lion of the Laboratory of Experimental Hematology, focusses on the SARS-Cov-2 specific cellular immunity research.

Related publications

  • van Dam, P.A., Debie, Y., Teuwen, L., Verbruggen, L., Vanhoutte, G., Peeters, B., Croes, L., Vulsteke, C., Anguille, S., Vandamme, T., Peeters, M., 2022. Comparison of S1 antibody titers between BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 COVID-19 vaccination in cancer patients. ESMO Open 7, 100414. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esmoop.2022.100414 
  • Konnova, A., De Winter, F.H.R., Gupta, A., Verbruggen, L., Hotterbeekx, A., Berkell, M., Teuwen, L.-A., Vanhoutte, G., Peeters, B., Raats, S., Massen, I.V. der, De Keersmaecker, S., Debie, Y., Huizing, M., Pannus, P., Neven, K.Y., Ariën, K.K., Martens, G.A., Bulcke, M.V.D., Roelant, E., Desombere, I., Anguille, S., Berneman, Z., Goossens, M.E., Goossens, H., Malhotra-Kumar, S., Tacconelli, E., Vandamme, T., Peeters, M., van Dam, P., Kumar-Singh, S., 2022. Predictive model for BNT162b2 vaccine response in cancer patients based on blood cytokines and growth factors. Frontiers in Immunology 13:1062136. doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2022.1062136