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Vaccine for brain tumors shows promising results

A vaccine for treating a recurrent cancer of the central nervous system that occurs primarily in the brain, known as glioma, has shown promising results in preliminary data from a clinical trial at UCSF Medical Center.

Findings from the first group of six patients in the study, being conducted at the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center, showed that vitespen (trademarked as Oncophage), a vaccine made from the patient's own tumor, was associated with tumor-specific immune response in patients with recurrent, high-grade glioma.

Glioma is a type of primary tumor that arises from the glial cells, the connective tissue cells that surround and support nerve cells. The most common site of involvement of a glioma is the brain. Malignant glioma is currently a fatal disease.

The trial results are being presented at the Immunotherapy Task Force Meeting, sponsored by the Society of Neuro-Oncology and the Joint Section of Tumors, during the Society's 11th annual scientific meeting in Orlando, Fla., on November 16, 2006.

"This is the first documentation of a glioma-specific immune response after vaccination with vitespen," said Andrew T. Parsa, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery and principal investigator of the trial.

"Based on preliminary observation of patients in the first cohort, the tumor-specific immune response evoked by vitespen vaccination may be associated with clinical benefit in these patients with recurrent glioma, including improved progression-free survival and overall survival compared with historical controls. Further studies are certainly warranted to definitively determine the benefit of vitespen in this patient population," he said.

Derived from each individual's tumor, vitespen contains the "fingerprint" of the patient's particular cancer and is designed to reprogram the body's immune system to target only cancer cells bearing this fingerprint. The vaccine is
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Source:University of California - San Francisco


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