Scientists Develop New Treatment to Combat Rare Childhood Brain Cancer

University of California, San Francisco scientists have developed a new vaccine that treats diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare childhood brain tumor. To learn more about DIPG, click here.
Great news! This development will affect families across the country and world, renewing a sense of hope – and just in time for the holidays!

DIPG is a type of tumor that starts in the brainstem, the part of the brain just above the back of the neck and connected to the spine. The brainstem controls breathing, heart rate and the nerves and muscles that help us see, hear, walk, talk and eat. These tumors are called gliomas because they grow from glial cells, a type of supportive cell in the brain.

Because DIPG occurs in the area of that brain that controls vital functions, such as breathing and heart rate, these tumors are almost impossible to remove surgically. Radiation therapy is the current standard treatment.

This cancer affects about 300 patients a year in the US, and is almost always fatal within a year of diagnosis.

But this breakthrough offers a novel way of combating the disease. The target of this new DIPG treatment is neoantigens.

A neoantigen is a fragment of a protein made by a cancer cell that has an abnormal structure – and often an abnormal function – due to a genetic mutation.
They UCSC scientists therefore have developed a vaccine that can recognize the neoantigen and prompt the immune system to launch an attack against the tumor.
“We saw a significant reduction in tumor progression compared to control groups,” said tumor immunologist Zinal Chheda, a co-lead author of the study. 
Read the full details in the press release from the university.

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