UCSF researchers unveil promising glioblastoma vaccine data

A mid-stage trial of an experimental vaccine for glioblastoma showed that the drug was effective and less toxic that currently-available treatments. The results were unveiled Monday at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

The trial, led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, included 33 patients with the deadly brain cancer. A unique therapeutic vaccine was crafted for each patient's tumor. Researcher said that without treatment, the patients in their trial would typically die within five to nine months. But the median survival rate for the vaccine group was 11 months, with some surviving over a year. UCSF researchers also observed an immune response in patients who got the vaccine, leading them to believe that survival could be extended by combining their treatment with other drugs for glioblastoma.

"The vaccine induces an immune response against multiple tumor-specific targets that allows patients to fight their own disease," said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Parsa. "The survival data thus far compare favorably with historical controls and clearly support advancement of this vaccine into later-stage randomized trials to directly compare the vaccine's effectiveness to conventional treatment." Parsa's group is working with Lexington, MA-based biotech Agenus, which is planning a randomized Phase II trial of the vaccine.

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