Brain Tumor Vaccine Shows Promise

Northwestern Medicine
Cancer Care/Oncology January 23, 2014
Drs. Orin Bloch and Andrew ParsaCould a vaccine made from a patient's own tumor hold the answer?

Andrew Parsa, MD, PhD, chair of Northwestern Medicine neurological surgery, aims to find out. Parsa is the corresponding author of study on a landmark clinical trial for patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) - the most common and most aggressive malignant primary brain tumor. The results of the vaccine Phase 2 study, published last month in Neuro-Oncology, showed that more than 90% of the patients treated with the vaccine were alive at six months. The median overall survival in these patients was approximately 11 months. The magazine's editorial called the results 'exciting' and a 'very promising therapy.'

"We are excited about these results and the enthusiasm of our colleagues," Parsa said. "We are also enthusiastic about the ongoing NCI Alliance trial and the opportunity to not only advance a new therapy for patients with GBM but to support the development of innovative immunologic and imaging tools." 

A GBM took the life of former Senator Edward Kennedy in 2009. The most aggressive form of primary brain tumor, GBM tumors are often resistant to standard therapies and median survival is approximately three to nine months for a recurrent tumor.  

“We are talking about fast-growing tumors that invade normal brain tissue and are very difficult to treat,” said Orin Bloch, MD, a neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and lead author of the study. “These tumors occur in up to 23,000 Americans annually, and are typically treated with surgical resection of the tumor followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatment.”   Click here for more information.

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