Hope Through Clinical Trials: Brain Cancer Vaccine Trial Shows Promise for Glioblastoma Patients

Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, remains one of the most difficult types of cancer to treat. Now, researchers have developed a vaccine that may prevent the recurrence of this deadly disease.

Hope Through Clinical Trials: Brain Cancer Vaccine Trial Shows Promise for Glioblastoma Patients
Scientists may just have brought hope for people suffering from Glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer with a possible vaccine for the disease.

Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, has remained one of the most difficult types of cancer to treat. Now, though, researchers have developed a vaccine that may prevent the recurrence of this deadly disease.

Clinical trials of SurVaxM indicate that it could dramatically increase life expectancy in people with glioblastoma. This immunotherapy agent might even prevent any recurrence following treatment with chemotherapy.

Read on to find out more.

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Glioblastoma = Poor Prognosis

Glioblastoma is a type of cancer that originates in the brain. As many as 12,000 new cases of glioblastoma are diagnosed every year. These are considered grade IV cancer, characterized by a high concentration of abnormal cells and aggressive growth.

Treating glioblastoma typically involves multiple modalities. Whenever possible, doctors attempt to remove tumors surgically. Complete excision is difficult, though, due to the nature of the cancer's growth patterns, so most individuals need follow-up treatment with radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Current treatments for glioblastoma produce limited success. The median length of survival after glioblastoma diagnosis is 15-18 months. The five-year survival rate is around 10%.

What if a vaccine could prevent the recurrence of deadly brain cancer? Researchers are trying to make that happen.

In Comes the SurVaxM Clinical Trial

Patients with glioblastoma may have new, more effective treatment options in the coming years., Researchers are currently conducting clinical trials on a so-called cancer vaccine that is showing great promise in preventing the recurrence of glioblastomas.

SurVaxM is an injectable treatment that stimulates an immune response to cancer cells, allowing patients to fight off recurrence. MimiVax LLC, the company developing the vaccine, describes it as "a peptide mimic immunogen that targets survivin, a cell-survival protein present in 95% of glioblastomas and in many other cancers."

Recently, investigators announced that participants in the brain cancer vaccine trial who received SurVaxM injections after chemotherapy had improved survival rates. This trial included 63 individuals who had been recently diagnosed with glioblastoma.

As of the date of publication, 51% of participants had survived at least two years, and 41% had survived three years.

Couple Clasping Hands
Glioblastoma has a poor prognosis but a vaccine in the works may have the answer as a survivor tells her story

A Survivor's Story

One trial participant named Katy Sanchez opened up about her experience with SurVaxM. Sanchez was only 28 when she was diagnosed with glioblastoma. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation before joining the clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic. That was five years ago, and she has had no disease progression since receiving SurVaxM.

Sanchez travels to the Cleveland Clinic every ten weeks to receive the vaccine and undergo an MRI to monitor her brain for any sign of recurrence. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic explained that Sanchez and other study participants will continue to receive the vaccine on this schedule as long as there is no sign of cancer growth or recurrence.

Sanchez told the Cleveland Clinic that being part of the trial gave her hope during a frightening and difficult time in her life. She encourages others to seek out similar clinical trials and also suggests, "I think you've got to give yourself time for a little bit of grief. This is not anything you ever expect to happen in your life. While there may not be a lot of treatments, there are a growing number of clinical trials. And that gives me hope."

Researchers are studying the effects of a vaccine (SurVaxM) that could stop cancer from recurring after treatment.

What's Next for SurVaxM?

Researchers of SurVaxM have been impressed by its effect on managing glioblastoma and regulating brain health. Clinical trials to study the vaccine as an adjuvant to chemotherapy are now occurring at multiple research sites throughout the United States, with investigators regularly enrolling new participants.

In addition, investigators are examining the efficacy of SurVaxM in addressing other cancers. The vaccine targets survivin, a protein present in many types of cancer, so researchers are optimistic that it may be useful in managing other cancers as well. Current trials are testing SurVaxM's efficacy in treating multiple myeloma and neuroendocrine tumors.

David Peereboom, who is an oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who worked on the study Katy Sanchez was a part of, urges patients to consider participating in clinical trials: "We encourage patients to ask their provider about clinical trials. We're passionate about them because a successful, new treatment provides hope and the possibility of improving our patients' quality and length of life."

Studies like those mentioned above wouldn't be possible without the help of people who participate in clinical research. If you would like to learn more about research and how you can participate in a clinical trial, connect with StudyPages and Signup for our Pulse Free Newsletter. Our platform helps you become part of real clinical studies and take part in the advancement of healthcare research.