18 November 2022

Brain Cancer Vaccine

New vaccine may prolong life of patients with glioblastoma


According to the results of a clinical trial, the world's first vaccine for the treatment of deadly brain tumors could potentially give patients extra years of life.

Glioblastoma is considered the most dangerous type of brain tumors. It is characterized by high resistance to chemotherapy and radiation exposure and a high risk of relapses. Treatment of glioblastoma is especially complicated by the fact that the brain is separated from the rest of the body by a blood—brain barrier - a special biochemical mechanism that prevents various dangerous substances from entering it, but also prevents the penetration of drugs.

The eight-year trial involved 331 patients. 232 participants received the DCVax vaccine, and 99 received a placebo. All patients underwent surgery followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy to remove as much of the tumor as possible, which is the standard treatment for glioblastoma.

The researchers who conducted the trials found that patients with newly diagnosed disease who received the vaccine survived an average of 19.3 months compared to 16.5 months for those who received a placebo. Participants with recurrent glioblastoma who had DCVax lived an average of 13.2 months after receiving it, compared to 7.8 months for those who did not. In general, 13% of people who received it lived at least five years after diagnosis, while only 5.7% achieved such a result in the control group alone. One of the patients who received DCVax is still alive seven years after the disease.

"The vaccine works by stimulating the patient's own immune system to fight the tumor," says Professor Keyoumars Ashkan, a neurosurgeon at King's College Hospital in London, who was the main European researcher in this clinical trial. — The vaccine is produced by combining the proteins of the patient's own tumor with his leukocytes. This trains white blood cells to recognize a tumor. When the vaccine is administered, these trained white blood cells help the rest of the patient's immune system recognize the tumor as something it needs to fight and destroy. Almost like training a sniffer dog."

The results are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology (Liau et al., Association of Autologous Tumor Lysate-Loaded Dendritic Cell Vaccination With Extension of Survival Among Patients With Newly Diagnosed and Recurrent Glioblastoma. A Phase 3 Prospective Externally Controlled Cohort Trial).

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