Early trial results in the United Kingdom point to a new vaccine which may extend the lives of cancer patients. The vaccine, designed to help treat glioblastoma, is being described by charity groups as “remarkably promising.” Keep reading to learn more, and follow the original story here for further details.
Glioblastoma is a form of brain cancer. The cancer typically begins in the cerebellum. One complication of glioblastoma is that the tumors are capable of providing their own blood supply. As a result, they are able to grow rapidly, and are typically aggressive.
Treatment options typically focus on slowing the tumor’s growth and improving a patient’s quality of life. Surgery may be conducted to remove part or all of the tumor. Radiation, and chemotherapy may assist in killing cancerous cells. There are also forms of electric-field therapy which may be used to target cancer cells while ignoring normal cells. In many cases, however, glioblastomas return after initial treatment.
According to researchers, people administered the new vaccine treatment lived twice as long as people receiving only the standard treatment.
The vaccine functions through the body’s own immune cells. It allows them to effectively target the cancerous cells. The vaccine combines immune cells from the patient, known as dendritic cells, and combines them with a sample of the patient’s tumor. It’s a sort of training exercise for the immune cells. When they are injected back into the body, the entire immune system becomes able to target the cancerous cells.
While the study evaluating the vaccine is not yet complete, results appear promising. Preliminary results from an 11-year study show that patients involved in the study live over 23 months after surgery.
100 people in the study group lived for 40.5 months at the time this round of results was collected.
Some patients have even survived seven years post-surgery. This is significant since the average person with glioblastoma lives only 15-17 months after surgery.
Because the study has not yet concluded, the data on who received treatment and who received the placebo is unavailable. What is known is that the study consisted of 331 people from the UK, US, Canada, and Germany. 99 Patients received standard treatment and the placebo. The other 232 received standard treatment and the new vaccine known as DCVax.
Further analysis of the data remains necessary. In the meanwhile there have been cases like Kat Charles’s in which the vaccine has worked something of a miracle.
Doctors gave Kat three months to live in 2014 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Kat tried every form of available treatment. It wasn’t until she received DCVax that any of them made a difference. She continues to receive treatment, and her MRI scans show no sign of the tumor. She reports no negative side effects as of this time.
Keyoumars Ashkan, professor of neurosurgery at King’s College Hospital in London is also hopeful about DCVax. Ashkan served as the European chief investigator for the clinical trial. The professor reserves the right to pass judgment until more data is available, but says the current results hint at a major breakthrough for glioblastoma patients. Ashkan invites “cautious optimism” in a field where “disease and suffering have had the upper hand” the majority of the time.