Median survival for the 23 patients tested at M. D. Anderson and at Duke University Medical Center is at least 19 months, and only four patients have died from the cancer, says Amy Heimberger, M.D., an assistant professor of Neurosurgery at M. D. Anderson. That figure surpasses the median survival of 14 months for patients with GBM who are treated with the most current chemotherapy and radiation, and the 4-month median survival for untreated patients, she says.
"We can't say this vaccine is better than chemotherapy because we haven't tested the two treatments head-to-head yet," she says. "However, so far, results have exceeded the expectations we had for this vaccine."
Heimberger's study was chosen by AANS for a Young Investigator's Award, and is being cited as one of the conference's most important findings.
The trial is now closed at both institutions. Given its statistically significant findings, a pharmaceutical company has acquired the rights to the drug and a larger, multi-institutional, randomized study is being planned, Heimberger says.
She describes the vaccine as an easy to use "off-the-shelf" treatment that can potentially help up to 50 percent of all GBM patients keep their cancer at bay for a period of time. Interim results of the Phase II clinical trial show that the vaccine significantly delays progression of tumors until the cancer finds a new growth pathway.
"This is a proof of concept, and optimal use of the vaccine may be with chemotherapy to further retard progression," says Heimberger. "Still, this is exciting to us because people have been trying to use immunotherapy ag
Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center