Mayo Clinic tests novel vaccine for aggressive brain tumors

Oct 22, 2007

A vaccine that has significantly increased life expectancy in early tests of patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) − the most common, most aggressive form of brain cancer in adults − is now being offered through a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

The vaccine represents a fresh and fairly simple approach to treating this cancer, says neurosurgeon Kent New, M.D., Ph.D., who will be leading the study at Mayo. About 40% of these tumors display a particular protein on their surface and the vaccine is designed to trick the patient’s immune system into thinking the protein is “foreign” in order to mount a killing response.

“We are pleased to have a new and promising therapy to offer patients who want to participate in this clinical trial,” says Dr. New. “The results, so far, have exceeded expectations.”

Earlier studies of the vaccine at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Duke University Medical Center showed that median survival for the 39 GBM patients tested increased by more than 50 percent compared to the typical outcome. Additionally, the time it took tumors to begin growing again was doubled.

Dr. New cautioned, however, that it is unknown whether the vaccine added to standard treatment (surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy) will ultimately produce any better outcome than the standard treatment alone. “By comparing standard therapy plus the vaccine to standard therapy alone, we hope to determine the true benefit of the vaccine” he says.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 20,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007 and almost 13,000 will die from the cancer. GBM, the most common primary brain tumor, is considered incurable; most patients die within a year of diagnosis.

Twenty or more centers nationwide will participate in the clinical trial initially, which is being sponsored by Celldex Therapeutics, the manufacturer of the vaccine, known as CDX-110. The study will be conducted in two stages. Approximately 90 patients will participate in the first portion, and if results show an improvement in disease-free survival for the CDX-110 treated patients, an additional 285 participants will be enrolled in the expanded study, which will include more sites.

Patients newly diagnosed with GBM who enroll in the study will have surgery at the participating center, and tumors will be examined to see if they express the mutated epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) protein. Researchers believe that this protein, which is not expressed on normal brain cells, pushes cancer development, which is one reason why glioblastomas are so aggressive. The vaccine uses synthetic versions of EGFRvIII to stimulate both cell-mediated immunity (T cells that attack invaders) and humoral immune responses (B cells that provide ongoing immune surveillance).

Participating patients whose tumors exhibit EGFRvIII will be randomized (selected by chance) either to standard treatment alone or standard treatment plus CDX-110, and the agents will be used until the tumor progresses or patients develop side effects from the treatment.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Explore further: Drug prices to treat multiple sclerosis soar, point to larger problem

Related Stories

Vaccines from a reactor

Mar 02, 2015

In the event of an impending global flu pandemic, vaccine production could quickly reach its limits, as flu vaccines are still largely produced in embryonated chicken eggs. Udo Reichl, Director at the Max ...

NIST suggests new purity test for biotech products

Dec 03, 2014

To avoid contaminating their experiments, biomedical researchers want to know that the scientific products they buy are pure. But how pure does something need to be to really be pure? Using a new test, scientists ...

The science of collaboration

Aug 28, 2013

It's a long, expensive, risky road to turn a scientific breakthrough into a treatment that can help patients. Fewer organizations are trying to tackle the challenges alone, says a new paper from MIT researchers published ...

Scientists reveal how deadly Ebola virus assembles

Aug 15, 2013

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered the molecular mechanism by which the deadly Ebola virus assembles, providing potential new drug targets. Surprisingly, the study showed ...

Recommended for you

Rising antibiotic shortages raise concerns about patient care

Apr 23, 2015

Shortages of key antibiotics, including gold-standard therapies and drugs used to treat highly resistant infections, are on the rise, according to a new study of shortages from 2001 to 2013 published in Clinical Infectious Di ...

Study supports HPV vaccination guidelines

Apr 21, 2015

(HealthDay)—New research finds that young women who get the HPV vaccine gain significant protection against infection in three parts of the body if they haven't already been exposed to the human papillomavirus.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.