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Scientists say new vaccine shows promise in treatment of brain cancer


Posted on: 12/02/2007

Scientists say new vaccine shows promise in treatment of brain cancer

Medical schools collaborate to develop virus using proteins from tumors

Andrew Cross

Issue date: 11/28/07 Section: News
  • Page 1 of 1
What doesn't kill you eventually makes you stronger.

Scientists hope to apply this straightforward maxim to the realm of healthcare with a breakthrough vaccine aimed at treating brain cancer.

Researchers from New York University's Clinical Cancer Center are working collaboratively with medical schools across the country to develop a virus that treats the deadliest form of brain cancer.

Ironically, the vaccine uses proteins from tumors found in patients with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common type of brain cancer.

The scientists hope the proteins will be useful in destroying the harmful tumors.

The vaccine, developed by Northwest Biotherapeutics, was successful in its initial trial at the University of California, Los Angeles.

To make the vaccine, the tumor of a recently-diagnosed patient is removed and sent to a laboratory, where it is broken down.

White blood cells are also treated to ensure the immune system is functioning properly.

Researchers from the New York University Medical Center plan to test more than 200 patients throughout five years with medical facilities in other locations testing patients as well.

"We are really excited about the promise of this vaccine," Patrick Kelly, New York University department of neurosurgery, said.

Researchers plan to administer the vaccine in the company of radiation and chemotherapy.

"We feel that combining the standard care treatment followed by chemotherapy for six months will be more effective than using the vaccine alone," Michael Gruber, clinical professor of neurology at New York University, said.

Patients between the ages of 18 and 65 will be split up into two groups.

One group will receive radiation and chemotherapy while the other group will receive traditional therapy with the addition of the vaccine.

Researchers hope to have primary results gathered by next fall, but maintain that initial findings will not produce completely accurate data.

The vaccine, known as DCVax-Brain, has no known side effects.

Historically, more than half of all brain and spinal cord tumor diagnoses result in a fatality.

Brain cancer claims most victims within a year of the onset of disease.

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