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Brain Tumor Vaccine Appears Promising

A vaccine to treat a fatal type of brain cancer appears to be very promising, according to new research. The vaccine is called vitespen (Oncophage) and is made from a patient’s own tumor.

Glioma is a cancer of the central nervous system that occurs primarily in the brain. Malignant glioma is a fatal disease. Investigators from University of California, San Francisco Medical Center are conducting the first trial on a vaccine for this disease.

The study includes two groups of six patients. Both groups received a minimum of four injections of the vaccine with the first group getting biweekly injections and the second group getting weekly ones. The results from the first six patients are being reported.

Each vaccine is individually made from the “fingerprint” of the patient’s particular cancer. The vaccine is designed to reprogram the body’s immune system to target only cancer cells and leave healthy tissue.

This helps to reduce the debilitating side effects associated with traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Researchers report a tumor-specific immune response was detected after vaccination in all six patients. They also report five of the six patients have exceeded the benchmark of six and a half months of survival from time of recurrence.

All six have exceeded the overall survival benchmark of just over 14 months from the time of diagnosis. These patients will continue to be followed, and a larger study is planned for 2007.

SOURCE: The Society of Neuro-Oncology 11th Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 16-19, 2006

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Reported November 27, 2006

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