Vaccine Extended Brain Cancer Survival

Glioblastoma multiforme responded to investigational vaccine that extended survival

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The most aggressive form of brain cancer is glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). A medication currently being studied has helped GBM patients live dramatically longer.

A vaccine that stimulates the immune system to fight off cancer cells kept half of the GBM patients in a small clinical trial alive for more than five years.

The experimental vaccine, called ICT-107, targets six molecules involved in the development of GBM.

"Discuss clinical trials with your oncologist."

Surasak Phuphanich, MD, director of the Neuro-Oncology Program at the Cochran Brain Tumor Center and professor of neurology with Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Neurosurgery and Department of Neurology, was this trial’s principal investigator.

GBM is a fast-growing cancer that develops in the supportive tissue of the brain called the glia. Most tumors are seen in the brain rather than the spinal cord.

The typical care for GBM is surgery to remove the tumor(s) followed by radiation and chemotherapy.

The researchers in this Phase ll trial were evaluating the impact of ICT-107 on patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma. These researchers measured overall survival and progression-free survival (the period during which the cancer does not progress).

The Phase l portion of the study enrolled 16 glioblastoma patients between 2007 and 2010.

Results from the early phase trial were published earlier this year, showing median overall survival of 38.4 months. With standard therapy, overall survival is about 15 months.

Progression-free survival at the end of the Phase l trial was 16.9 months, compared to seven months with standard GBM treatments.

Based on the results of this trial, the vaccine entered this Phase ll, randomized, placebo controlled trial in 2011.

Seven of the original 16 participants were still alive 60.7 to 82.7 months following diagnosis.

The GBM did not progress for more than five years in six patients.

And four participants were still disease-free and enjoying good quality of life for between 65.1 to 82.7 months following their GBM diagnosis.

One patient died of leukemia after remaining brain cancer free for five years.

The vaccine works by putting the immune system on the alert to the presence of cancer cells and activating a tumor-killing response. ICT-107 targets six antigens (foreign invaders that cause a specific immune response) involved in the development of GBM.

The vaccine uses the patient’s own dendritic cells — the immune system's most powerful soldiers that help it recognize invaders. The patient’s dendritic cells are gathered from a routine blood draw.

In the lab, the dendritic cells are essentially trained to spot, target and destroy the bad guy tumor antigens. The vaccine is given three times every two weeks following standard radiation and chemotherapy.

Results from this trial were presented at the Fourth Quadrennial Meeting of the World Federation of Neuro-Oncology.

ICT-107 is the product of the biotech firm ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, Ltd. Cedars-Sinai owns equity in this company and certain rights to the vaccine. Cedars-Sinai has exclusively licensed intellectual property to ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, including ICT-107 rights.

Several of the resesarchers involved in this trial also have financial ties with the company.

All research is considered preliminary before it’s published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Review Date: 
November 23, 2013
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013