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Duke vaccine extends survival for patients with deadly brain cancers
Date:10/4/2010

DURHAM, N.C. -- A new vaccine added to standard therapy appears to offer a survival advantage for patients suffering from glioblastoma (GBM), the most deadly form of brain cancer, according to a study from researchers at Duke University Medical Center and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The vaccine also knocks out a troublesome growth factor that characterizes the most aggressive form of the disease.

"About a third of all glioblastomas are fueled by a very aggressive cancer gene, called EGFRvIII; these tumors are the 'worst of the worst,'" said John Sampson, M.D., Ph.D., the Robert H. and Gloria Wilkins Professor of Neurosurgery at Duke.

"Our study showed that the vaccine eliminated all of the cancer cells carrying this marker in all but one of our study participants," said Darell D. Bigner, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center and the senior author of the study.

The EGFRvIII variant was co-discovered by Bert Vogelstein and Albert Wong at Johns Hopkins University and Bigner, at Duke.

The study, appearing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, involved 18 patients newly diagnosed with GBM from Duke and MD Anderson and a matched set of 17 patients who served as controls. Patients in both groups received surgery, radiation and the chemotherapy drug temozolomide. Patients in the vaccine group began receiving injections one month after completing radiation and stayed on the vaccine as long as it appeared to be working.

Adding the vaccine to standard therapy extended median survival time from an expected 15 months to 26 months. Patients in the vaccine group also experienced a much longer progression-free survival period, 14.2 months, compared to 6.3 months for those who did not receive the vaccine.

Glioblastoma is the most common form of brain cancer with roughly 10,000 new cases arising in the U.S. each year. The presence of EGFRvIII allows canc
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-724-5343
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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