Experimental Glioblastoma Vaccine Shows Promise in Slowing Brain Tumor Growth

Researchers are testing a new immunotherapy for brain cancer

Illustration of glioblastoma in brain

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer; the average person lives just 15 months after being diagnosed with it.

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“Despite improvements in surgery, medical therapies and radiation, outcomes from treatment of glioblastoma still remain dismal,” says neuro-oncologist Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, Director of the Brain Metastasis Research Program at Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Ahluwalia is helping lead a clinical trial of a new glioblastoma treatment called SurVaxM. It’s an immunotherapy for brain cancer that works by stimulating a person’s own body to kill tumor cells that contain survivin, a protein that helps those cancer cells resist traditional treatments.

Positive results in first trials

So far, the results are encouraging. Nearly 97% of the 63 patients in the phase 2 clinical trial did not experience tumor progression in the six months following treatment with the vaccine after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

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Patients are also seeing better overall survival one year after diagnosis with the vaccine than with traditional treatment, Dr. Ahluwalia says.

Next up, the treatment will be tested in a randomized trial in patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma. “We are eager to see if this vaccine shows similar results in a randomized trial,” he says.

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