Brain cancer vaccine shows promising findings in early research at UCLAs Jonsson Cancer Center

An experimental vaccine for brain cancer has shown promising results in preliminary investigations at UCLAs Jonsson Cancer Center.

The results are published in this weeks issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research.

The vaccine, studied first as a preventive strategy for brain tumors, completely prevented brain tumor formation in laboratory rats. In contrast, all of the rats that did not receive the vaccine developed very aggressive brain tumors.

The results of our study are very encouraging. The 100 percent protection is pretty dramatic, said Dr. Linda Liau, a brain cancer surgeon, researcher at UCLAs Jonsson Cancer Center and lead author of the journal article. However, we dont yet have ways to determine who is at high risk of developing brain tumors. So our next step is to begin preliminary testing of this vaccine as a possible treatment strategy for brain tumors.

There is a critical need for more effective therapies for brain cancer, which affects more than 17,000 Americans each year and is almost 100 percent fatal, Liau said. Malignant gliomas are the most deadly type of cancerous brain tumor.

Without any treatment, patients with the most aggressive gliomas usually do not live longer than nine months. Even after surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, patients usually live only for as long as two years, said Liau, who also is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the UCLA School of Medicine.

While the vaccine research shows promise, it will be several years before human testing may begin, Liau said.

The vaccine is designed to boost the immune systems response against brain cancer by exposing the antigens, or specific proteins, that brain tumors produce. Each tumor produces several antigens that may be recognized by the immune system.

Although the immune system can identify and attack bacteria, viruses and tumors, it does not recognize all brain tumor antigens.

When the immune syste

Contact: Kambra McConnel
University of California - Los Angeles

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