Adding up a new vaccine to standard therapy extensive survival for people with the most deadly type of brain cancer. The patients were divided into two groups: Both received surgery, radiation and the chemotherapy drug temozolomide, but one group of 18 patients also began receiving injections of the new vaccine one month after completing radiation and continued to receive the vaccine as long as it appeared to be effective.
Median survival time for those in the vaccine group was 26 months, compared with 15 months for the control group. Progression-free survival was 14.2 months in the vaccine group, compared to 6.3 months in the control group. The vaccine appeared to stimulate an immune response in approximately half of the patients who received it, suggesting such responses were linked to increased survival time, but the numbers are so small that we cannot conclude this with any degree of certainty.
The vaccine knocks out a growth factor associated with the most aggressive form of the brain cancer. The presence of EGFRvIII allows cancer cells to multiply out of control, seeding new tumors throughout the brain, the researchers explained. Even with advances in chemotherapy and radiation, prognosis for patients with glioblastoma is poor, with an average survival time of one year after diagnosis.