Big news on the cancer prevention and treatment front: Early findings from a new cancer vaccine in development suggest the drug could add years to the lives of people with an aggressive form of brain cancer, The Guardian reports.
The treatment, which is designed to slow down the effects of glioblastoma multiforme, works by using the body’s own immune cells to target the brain tumor. Recent results from an 11-year study involving more than 300 cancer patients
The report tracked the efficacy of DCVax, an immunotherapy being developed by the American company Northwest Biotherapeutics. Of the 331 glioblastoma patients who participated in the trial, 232 were injected regularly with the preventive shot in addition to their standard cancer care. The remaining patients were given a placebo until the trial was completed. Eventually, 86.4 percent of patients received the treatment at some point.
Results showed that patients who took the experimental vaccine survived for more than 23 months postsurgery. Almost a third of patients (30 percent) were classified as “extended survivors” and lived an average of 40.5 months after surgery. The longest survivors in the study group lived on for more than seven years.
“It appears that patients who survive past certain threshold time points may continue onward to unusually long survival times,” said the study’s 69 researchers in a follow-up statement to the report, adding that the interim results gave “new hope to the patients and clinicians battling with this terrible disease.”
Study authors say they need to further analyze the trial data and conduct more research into the role that immunotherapy may play in the battle against cancer.