Vaccine extends life of brain cancer patients

Washington: A new brain cancer vaccine, which uses material from patients` own tumours, holds promise of extending their lives by several months, show results of a multicentre phase-two clinical trial of the vaccine.

The effectiveness of the vaccine was tested on more than 40 patients undergoing treatment at the University of California, San Francisco Comprehensive Cancer Centre, University Hospitals Case Medical Centre, Cleveland, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.

The patients suffered from recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and most aggressive malignant primary brain tumour that kills thousands of Americans every year.

The trial found that the vaccine could extend survival of the patients by several months compared to 80 other patients who were treated at the same hospitals and received standard therapy. Several of the patients who had received the cancer vaccine have survived for more than a year, according to a university statement.

"These results are provocative," said California neurosurgeon Andrew Parsa, who led the research. "They suggest that doctors may be able to extend survival of patients even longer by combining the vaccine with other drugs that enhance their immune response."

The next step, he said, would be a more extensive and randomised clinical trial to look at the effectiveness of the vaccine combined with the drug Avastin, a standard therapy for this type of cancer, compared to the effectiveness of Avastin alone. The next phase of trials, to be run by the National Cancer Institute, will begin enrolling patients later this year.

These findings were presented at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meeting in Miami, US.


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