A vaccine could give several more years of life to patients who suffer from glioblastoma, according to early trial results of an 11-year international study.
Patients who took part in the study, according to researchers, managed to live much longer than those who underwent standard treatment.
Glioblastoma or glioblastoma multiforme is the most aggressive form of cancer that begins to develop from within the brain. Glioblastomas are tumors that are highly cancerous because the cells reproduce quickly and they are supported by a large network of blood vessels.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the tumor represents about 15.4 percent of all primary brain tumors and around 60 to 70 percent of all astrocytomas. The symptoms of the cancer are initially non-specific but may include headaches, seizure, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, personality changes, and other neurological problems.
Phase 3 Clinical Trial: DCVax
Researchers are currently testing the vaccine called DCVax on more than 300 glioblastoma patients from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Germany. All the individuals in the trial previously underwent the standard treatment for cancer, which involved surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.
Of the total number of patients, 232 individuals received the vaccine regularly apart from the standard treatment, while the rest of the participants were given a placebo. However, the vaccine was eventually given to those who also encountered a tumor recurrence. This means that around 86.4 percent of the participants were injected with the vaccine.
How The Vaccine Works
The vaccine works by using the immune cells, known as dendritic cells, in the body to fight off the tumor. These cells are responsible for helping the immune system to identify and target the tumor cells.
The treatment begins by taking the blood and tumor cells from the patient's body. The dendritic cells are then extracted from the blood and are exposed to the tumor cells. From this process, the dendritic cells become more "educated" and are later injected back into the body where they will help other immune cells to fight off the tumor cells.
The study found that the people involved in the trial managed to live longer than those who underwent standard treatment only. They managed to survive for over 23 months on average after surgery as opposed to only 15 to 17 months.
Also, 30 percent of the patients managed to live for 40.5 months after the surgery, while those who survived the longest managed to live for over seven years. The Brain Tumour Charity in the United Kingdom considered the preliminary results to be "remarkably promising."
The 11-year study was published in the Journal of Translational Medicine.