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Common virus may help doctors treat deadly brain tumors
Date:10/22/2007

with mild flulike symptoms. After infection, the virus becomes dormant and stays that way for the life of the infected person. But in people with weakened immune systems -- such as AIDS patients or those undergoing bone marrow transplant -- HCMV can become reactivated and cause more severe illnesses, such as pneumonia.

HCMVs association with brain tumors was first demonstrated in 2002 by researchers at the University of Alabama - Birmingham, but their results had not been repeated despite several attempts.

We not only confirmed the virus association with the tumors but also saw that patients with glioblastoma multiforme had detectable virus in their bloodstreams, where the comparative group did not, Mitchell said. This association may help us assess the success of vaccine treatment, since we will be better able to monitor response in patients, even after their tumors have been removed.

Based on the results of this study, Duke researchers have developed a vaccine that targets HCMV and are conducting a clinical trial to assess the vaccines safety and its effectiveness at building immunity to HCMV in patients with brain tumors. In the trial, which will complete enrollment this year, the vaccine is given monthly to cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy for as long as their tumors remain stable.

Were encouraged by the early results were seeing in the clinical trial and were pleased that the initial study enabled us to proceed with testing this vaccine in patients, Mitchell said. Because HCMV is present in such a large number of glioblastoma multiforme patients, the development of an effective treatment that targets the virus could have significant implications for this deadly disease.


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Contact: Lauren Shaftel Williams
lauren.shaftel@duke.edu
919-684-4966
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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