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Brain Cancer Health Center

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Vaccine May Help Treat Brain Cancer

Study Shows People With Glioblastoma Live Longer When Vaccine Is Added to Regular Treatment

Longer Survival continued...

"Several patients are over five years out [from the diagnosis] now," Sampson tells WebMD.

Further study and FDA approval are needed before the vaccine can become commercially available, Sampson says. The new study is a phase II study, meant to evaluate effectiveness of a treatment as well as side effects and risks. Phase III studies look further at effectiveness as well as risks and benefits.

Adverse effects of the vaccine were minimal, Sampson says. "Occasionally patients will have a bit of an allergic reaction," he says. The vaccine is injected in the upper thigh.

The vaccine would not replace standard therapy, but supplement it, he says.

"We have some new evidence suggesting the vaccine and standard of care actually act synergistically, so it probably would be best to use them together," Sampson says.

As one of the vaccine developers, Sampson would have a financial interest in the vaccine should it become commercially available, he says.

Second Opinion

While many other attempts for cancer vaccines are ongoing, the new vaccine approach is simpler than others, says Behnam Badie, MD, professor of neurosurgery and director of the brain tumor program at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., who reviewed the findings for WebMD.

"His technique is less complicated, because it requires less manipulation in the lab and does not require tissue from the patient," Badie says.

But he has a few concerns. "Only 30% of [glioblastoma] tumors make this EGFRvIII variant," he says, a limitation cited by Sampson as well. So it wouldn't work well for all glioblastomas.

When tumors return, they don't make the variant anymore, Badie says, so the vaccine wouldn't be expected to work anymore.

Still, he calls the new findings ''very exciting."

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