New Vaccine For Brain Cancer Brings Hope For Patients

Glioblastoma is the most common and most severe form of brain cancer and of the 12,000 new cases diagnosed each year, doctors say 10,000 will die from the disease.But Kruse qualified for a phase two clinical trial for a brain cancer vaccine called Survaxm, which is currently being conducted at Roswell park cancer institute in buffalo, where the vaccine was also developed. Kruse says her most recent MRI shows no evidence of the tumor.”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 Dr. Ciesielski, an assistant professor at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Doctor Robert Fenstermaker, Kruse’s doctor and co-developer of the vaccine, says it 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,” said Dr. Fenstermaker, the chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.Patients in the trial are receiving the vaccine along with standard therapy and so far, researchers say the results are promising.Doctors say for many of the patients, there is no evidence of recurrence and those newly diagnosed with glioblastoma may be the best candidates for this treatment.

BACKGROUND: Glioblastomas, also known as GBMs, are tumors that arise from the supportive tissue of the brain. Because these cells reproduce quickly and they are supported by a big network of blood vessels, these tumors are usually cancerous. GBMs come from normal brain cells, therefore it is easy for them to invade and live within normal brain tissue. However, glioblastoma rarely spreads to other parts in the body. There are two types of glioblastomas: primary or secondary. Most common symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness.

TREATMENTS:Glioblastomas can be difficult to treat because the tumors contain so many different types of cells. Some cells may respond well to certain therapies, while others may not be affected at all; this is why there are different approaches when treating a glioblastoma. One of these approaches is surgery; it relieves pressure on the brain, and it safely removes as much tumor as possible. Nevertheless, because glioblastomas have finger-like tentacles, they are very difficult to completely remove. This is particularly true when they are growing near the parts of the brain  cancer that control important functions such as language and coordination. Radiation and chemotherapy are also an option; they may be us ed to slow the growth of tumors that cannot be removed with surgery. Chemotherapy may also be used to delay the need for radiation, especially in young children.