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Personalized Vaccine on the Rise Against Brain Cancer

A new study conducted just recently this month details an experimental vaccine that could improve the survival rate in cancer patients – specifically those that involved brain tumors. The study was published in the journal Neuro-Oncology.

Glioblastoma mutiforme (GBM), a lethal brain tumor, accounts for 15% of all brain tumors, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. The study researchers note that the tumor often becomes resistant to standard treatment after a period of use. Most patients diagnosed with this type have very low survival rates, and are usually given 3 to 9 months. The tumors grow fast and almost impossible to treat.

These researchers plan to change all of that, though, with their experimental vaccine called heat-shock peptide protein complex-96, or simply HSPPC-96. The vaccine is developed specifically to match each patient’s individual treatment needs by using their own tumor tissue. The vaccine supposedly works by prompting a response from the immune system tailored to each patient, which then eliminates any remaining cells following surgery.

In the Phase II trials of the drug, promising results were received, as out of the 41 participating adult patients, 90% were still alive after 6 months, and 30% were still alive after a year. Every patient received 6 doses of the vaccine. To put that into perspective, only 3-5% of diagnosed patients survive past 3 years.

Although the research conducted resulted in generally positive results, a lot of research still has to go into the vaccine before being approved for commercial use. The next step is to test HSPPC-96 alongside avastin, a GBM treatment standard, to see how effective its use is compared to what is already available.

“The grim prognosis is exactly why new research is important. GBMs have been around for a long time, and still outcomes are poor. With studies such as this one, I believe we can change that. Someday, research will be able to turn a pivotal point and make cancer, at least this one, a chronic disease – one that can be lived with, with the use of medication.”

Orin Bloch, Neurosurgeon

Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago

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