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Vaccine extends glioblastoma patients' survival in phase II trial
Date:10/6/2010

HOUSTON - A vaccine that turns the immune system against brain tumor cells bearing a genetic mutation that drives the most aggressive form of glioblastoma multiforme improved survival of patients in a phase II clinical trial, researchers at Duke University and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Eighteen newly diagnosed patients who were vaccinated after undergoing standard treatment - surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy - had median overall survival of 26 months compared with 15 months for 17 patients in a control group who received standard treatment. Median survival for newly diagnosed patients with glioblastoma multiforme is 14.6 months.

Vaccinated patients also experienced a longer period before their disease progressed, 14.2 months, compared with 6.3 months for the control group. Side effects were limited mainly to irritation at the injection site.

"This promising targeted therapy blocks a key molecular signal that drives the malignant features of these tumors," said Amy Heimberger, M.D., associate professor in MD Anderson's Department of Neurosurgery and co-lead author of the paper. "If a patient's tumor expresses the target of this vaccine, she usually has only a 5 percent chance to live for two years."

All patients in the trial had the target variation, called epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII), which occurs in about a third of glioblastomas and also is found in breast, lung and head and neck cancers. The flawed gene produces a protein that aids tumor development, migration and resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. It is not found in normal tissue.

Out of 11 tumor recurrences analyzed from vaccinated patients, the EGFRvIII cells were completely gone in nine, indicating that the vaccine had done its job eliminating the most aggressive cells, said co-lead author John Sampson, M.D., Ph.D., professor o
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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Vaccine extends glioblastoma patients' survival in phase II trial
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