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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Treating Glioblastoma in New Approach way could add years to patients’ lives

A new way of treating glioblastoma — the deadly brain tumor currently ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain — with a personalized vaccine is giving some patients in a clinical trial more time.
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The vaccination, called DCVax-L, is
made out of a patient’s own cells and uses them to jumpstart the immune system and attack the tumor. In the trial, some patients survived for more than 36 months — more than a year and a half longer than current life expectancy after glioblastoma diagnosis.

"The survival rate is quite remarkable compared to what would be expected for glioblastoma," Dr. Linda Liau, chair of the neurosurgery department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a release.

The current survival rate for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma is 15 to 17 months with less than 5% making it to five years.

For the purposes of the eight-year study, glioblastoma patients at 80 locations across the world first underwent standard glioblastoma treatment protocol — surgery to resect the tumor followed by chemotherapy. The group of about 430 was then divided into two: one received the immunotherapy vaccine (about 230 people) made of their own cells and then other (nearly 100), a placebo.

"The unique thing about the DCVax-L vaccine is that this doesn't target a single antigen," Liau said. "This treatment actually uses the patient's own tumor specimen to make the vaccine. This is really a form of personalized immunotherapy that is customized to an individual patient and his/her tumor."
The researchers found that the average survival rate of those receiving the vaccine jumped to over 23 months. Another 30% of patients lived for more than 30 months and just under 25% survived for 36 months.

“What's particularly impressive about immunotherapy trials is that there seems to be a population of about 20 to 30% of patients who are living significantly longer than expected,” Liau said. “And those are the people in whom we think there may be a particularly strong immune response against their cancer that is protecting them from getting tumor reoccurrence.”

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