Brain Cancer Vaccine: Glioblastoma Breakthrough

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Glioblastoma is the most common and most severe form of brain cancer. Of the 12,000 new cases diagnosed each year, 10,000 patients will die in about a year. (KFSN)

Glioblastoma is the most common and most severe form of brain cancer. Of the 12,000 new cases diagnosed each year, 10,000 patients will die in about a year. But a new vaccine developed by researchers in Buffalo, New York, is showing promising results.

In the fall of 2015, Margie Kruse was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumor.

Kruse told Ivanhoe, "When I woke up from surgery, the prognosis wasn't very good."

However, Kruse qualified for a Phase II clinical trial for a brain cancer vaccine currently being conducted at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, where the vaccine was also developed. Kruse said her most recent MRI showed no evidence of the tumor.

"I'm pretty confident that at least for me, this is working."

Co-developer of the vaccine and an assistant professor at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Michael Ciesielski, Ph.D., said the vaccine harnesses the power of the immune system.

"This stimulates your lymphocytes, white blood cells, t-cells, antibodies to hone in on the tumor and kill it using your body's own immune system," said Ciesielski.

Robert Fenstermaker, M.D., Chairman of the department of Neurosurgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, is Kruse's doctor. He is also a co-developer of the vaccine. Dr. Fenstermaker said the vaccine targets a specific cell survival protein called Survivin, which is present in a majority of cancers, including glioblastoma.

"If you develop an immune response that attacks Survivin you can treat the tumor without affecting normal tissues to a large extent," explained Dr. Fenstermaker. (Read Full Interview)

Patients in the trial are receiving the vaccine along with standard therapy and so far, researchers say the results are promising.

"This vaccine has been absolutely a godsend," said Kruse.

Doctors say for many of the patients, there is no evidence of recurrence. They say those newly diagnosed with glioblastoma may be the best candidates for this treatment.

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