New vaccine shows promise against deadly brain tumors


glioma Washington, Nov. 17 (ANI): A vaccine for treating a recurrent cancer of the central nervous system that occurs primarily in the brain, known as glioma, may activate a tumour-specific immune response in the body, reveals preliminary data from a clinical trial at UCSF Medical Centre.

Tests conducted on the first group of six patients at the UCSF Brain Tumour Research Centre show that vitespen, a vaccine made from the patient's own tumour, was associated with tumour-specific immune response in patients with recurrent, high-grade glioma.

Glioma is a type of primary tumour 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 researchers presented their findings 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 on November 16.

"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 tumour-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.

The researchers say that vitespen is derived from the patient’s particular cancer, and is designed to reprogram the body’s immune system to target only the cancer cells, without causing any side effects.

The clinical trial involved two groups of six patients, both of which receive a minimum of four injections. The first group received biweekly vaccinations, and the second received weekly vaccinations. Patients were monitored for immune response before, during and after treatment.

The researchers observed that the tumour-specific immune response was detected after vaccination in all six patients in the first group. They saw that patients whose disease was stable after surgical resection and before vaccination were more likely to respond clinically.

The investigators say that the vaccine did not show any adverse event or toxicity. Based on these preliminary findings, a larger phase 2 study is planned for 2007.

source - ANI