Healthy Living

Oct 5, 2010 3:27 PM by (CC)

Promising, experimental vaccine doubles life expectancy for some brain cancer patients

An experimental brain cancer vaccine has been found to nearly double the life expectancy of some patients with the most aggressive form of the disease.

Glioblastoma is an aggressive form of brain cancer that usually claims its victims within 15 months after diagnosis, but patients in a clinical trial at Duke University are beating the odds.

"one of the most amazing things we've seen with this vaccine is several of our patients have now lived over 5 years from their time of diagnosis," said Dr. John Sampson of Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University.

The vaccine targets a genetic mutation that fuels about a third of glioblastomas, but those mutations are also found in other cancers, which has some wondering whether the vaccine could do more.

" I think there's good evidence that it will. This particular mutation that it targets in a highly specific way is actually present in a number of other cancers," said Dr. Sampson.

The next step in the research is to launch a study that compares patients on the vaccine with those on a placebo.

Doctors say it is going to be very difficult to find sick people willing to chance not getting the treatment when they see how well patients in the small, experimental studies are doing.

Those on the vaccine also went an average of 14 months before their disease progressed, compared with more than 6 months for other patients.

There were no side effects related to the vaccine.

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