Personalized brain cancer vaccine improves survival

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and most aggressive of the brain cancers known as gliomas. The cancer is very difficult to treat and most patients die within a year. Phase II clinical data for Agenus' ($AGEN) HSPPC-96 vaccine (also known as vitespen) presented at the 80th American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Annual Scientific Meeting in Miami, FL, showed patients living longer, which could offer a glimmer of hope.

In the study, more than 40 GBM patients had the anti-cancer shot after surgery. They lived significantly longer than people treated with standard therapies, and 93% were still alive at 6 months, compared with only 68% in the standard treatment group.

HSPPC-96 is based on the patient's tumor cells, and the company is also studying the vaccine in newly diagnosed GBM patients, with a Phase II trial under way in combination with "standard of care" treatment--Temodar (temozolomide) and radiation.

Based on these data, a further trial is planned, which will look at the combination of the vaccine and bevacizumab in recurrent GBM patients undergoing surgical resection. This will be sponsored by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, part of the National Cancer Institute.

"I believe the combination of bevacizumab with HSPPC-96 holds significant promise for surgically resected recurrent GBM patients who are faced with limited treatment options," said Andrew T. Parsa, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and lead investigator for the trial.

- read the press release from Agenus
- see the press release from UCSF
- check out the press release from AANS