In This Section

AACR Journal Features Two Studies on COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy in Patients with Blood Cancers

PHILADELPHIA – Blood Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, today published two articles investigating the efficacy of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in patients with hematologic malignancies:

  • In a study titled “Disease and therapy-specific impact on humoral immune responses to COVID-19 vaccination in hematologic malignancies,” researchers reported that patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma all had fewer antibodies at one and three months post-vaccination than people without cancer. Peak antibody response was stronger in females than males, and the Moderna vaccine elicited a stronger response than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Lead author David J. Chung, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) and colleagues also found that many patients had insufficient neutralizing capacity following vaccination despite positive antibody titers. This study represents the largest dataset of vaccine responses among patients with hematologic malignancies that includes both binding and neutralizing antibody data. The sample size was large enough to determine that therapies including venetoclax, kinase inhibitors, and B-cell antigen-targeting drugs hindered patients’ immune response to the vaccine while single-agent immunomodulatory agents such as lenalidomide or pomalidomide for multiple myeloma did not. Read the full paper.
  • A companion study, titled “Predictors of Humoral Response to SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination after Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation and CAR T Cell Therapy,” investigated patients’ response to vaccination against COVID-19 following treatment with cellular therapies such as allogeneic and autologous hematopoietic cell transplant and CAR T-cell therapy. Lead author Roni Tamari, MD, also of MSK, and colleagues found overall high response rates among recipients of cellular therapies, though the type of therapy and time since treatment impacted patients’ antibody levels and neutralizing capacity. Response to vaccination correlated with degree of immune recovery after transplantation, which can be tracked by simple blood tests, thus offering a cue to when these patients may regain the ability to respond to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Read the full paper.

These papers add to the growing body of research regarding the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in different groups, and can help inform optimal vaccination approaches, including booster vaccination strategies, for patients with a history of or in active treatment for hematologic malignancies. All AACR journal content related to COVID-19 is freely available in the COVID-19 & Cancer Resource Center.