A new experimental vaccine was able to knock out the most aggressive form of brain cancer — glioblastoma multiforme — allowing patients to live more than 5 years after diagnosis.
According to Cedars-Sinai researchers who presented findings at a meeting of the World Federation of Neuro-Oncology, the new immune system-boosting vaccine allowed half of 16 patients treated with it to live much longer than the vast majority of people diagnosed with the cancer. With standard care, median length of survival is 15 months after diagnosis and only 10 percent survive more than 5 years, the researchers noted.
The experimental vaccine, known as ICT-107, works by alerting the immune system to the existence of cancer cells and destroying tumors by targeting six antigens involved in the development of glioblastoma cells.
"Our findings suggest that targeting antigens that are highly expressed by cancer stem cells may be a viable strategy for treating patients who have glioblastomas," said Surasak Phuphanich, M.D., director of the Neuro-Oncology Program at the Cochran Brain Tumor Center and professor of neurology with Cedars-Sinai's Department of Neurosurgery and Department of Neurology. "Long-term remission of disease in this group of patients was correlated with the expression of cancer stem cell tumor-associated antigens."
According to the research findings:
- Seven of the 16 participants still are living, with length of survival ranging from about 61 to 83 months after diagnosis.
- Six were "progression free" for more than 5 years, meaning the tumors did not return or require more treatment.
- Four remain free of disease with good quality of life.
- One patient who remained free of brain cancer for five years died of leukemia.
Typically, when tumor-removal surgery is followed by standard care, which includes radiation and chemotherapy, median length of survival is about 15 months, the researchers noted.
ICT-107 was developed by the biotechnology company ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, Ltd. Cedars-Sinai owns equity in the company and several members of the research and presentation team have ties to the company.
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