According to a publication from EurekAlert, results from a phase 1b clinical study of experimental glioblastoma “vaccine“ IGV-001 suggest that the treatment is well tolerated in humans. Additional data collected during the study suggests that the vaccine might effectively impede tumor recurrence and improve the cancer’s survivability.
Glioblastoma (AKA glioblastoma multiforme) is an aggressive brain and spine cancer. Glioblastoma tumors form from astrocytes – glia cells that provide structural support and protection for neurons.
Because glioblastoma form in the brain and spinal cord, treating this form of cancer can be particularly challenging for healthcare professionals. Glioblastoma tumors grow into the brain tissue surrounding them, in many cases becoming inseparable and indistinguishable from one another. As you probably guessed, that makes targeting the tumor with surgery or radiation nearly impossible without causing catastrophic collateral damage.
As a result, much of the time, treatment options are limited to the palliative. Although glioblastoma occurs most often in older adults, it can occur at any age in any population.
About the study
Researchers administered the cancer vaccine IGV-001 to 33 individuals recently diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. Outcomes were evaluated against an earlier-observed control group of 35 individuals who were treated with standard care at the same institution.
Results showed that respondents from the new study (those treated with IGV-001) enjoyed a median overall survival 7.3 months longer than the control group. It took tumors in the vaccine group longer to grow as well – patients in that group had a median progression-free survival about 4.25 months longer than those in the control.
IGV-001 is, in a way, unique every time it’s used. That’s because, much like vaccines you might be familiar with, IGV-001 uses a small sample of non-active material to stimulate an immune response. However, unlike viruses, when a standardized vaccine for the public is often good enough, glioblastoma can be highly individualized between patients. Kind of like thumbprints, no two tumors are exactly identical.
In order to make IGV-001 effective, scientists need a piece of tumor tissue removed from a patient’s initial glioblastoma to synthesize a personalized form of the drug. When the vaccine is introduced to the patient, the immune system is able to decipher the tumor sample and accompanying information into instructions for the immune system that allow it to target glioblastoma cells.
The current form of the vaccine is the result of over 15 years of hard work and exhaustive research led by Drs. Craig Hooper and David Andrews, and their teams at Jefferson Health and Imvax. A phase 2 trial aiming to build on the 1b study findings will likely commence later this year.
How is IGV-001 similar to the vaccine you might get for measles? How is it different? Do you think calling the treatment a vaccine is helpful or hurtful to the public’s understanding of it? Share your thoughts with Patient Worthy!