Vaccine for Brain Cancer
Reported November 25, 2009
NEW YORK (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Every
year, 10,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with the most aggressive and
most common form of brain cancer. Even after surgery, radiation and chemo,
doctors say the tumor returns in 95 percent of cases. Researchers are
testing out a new vaccine that aims to stop the cancer from coming back.
Peter Rauch was just about to celebrate his 70th birthday when he got the
news: brain cancer.
"I thought maybe I was getting dementia or something like that," Rauch said.
"I just didn't feel quite right."
He had a crainiotomy, where surgeons remove part of the skull and cut out
the cancer. The operation went well, but doctors are always concerned the
tumors will come back.
"They infiltrate into the brain, and we can take out the majority of them,
but there are microscopic cells that go into the brain that are very, very
hard to treat," Ted Schwartz, M.D., a neurosurgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian
Hospital, told Ivanhoe.
Rauch is testing out a new vaccine. It works by training his immune system
to target and kill cancer cells.
"With new treatments like tumor vaccines, we can actually 'rev-up' the
body's own immune system to target and treat those tumors," Dr. Schwartz
In phase II trials, patients who got the
vaccine were free of cancer for about 16 and a half months and survived
nearly three years. Those who didn't get the shot saw their cancer progress
six months later. They survived a little over a year.
"We've been doing this for many years," Dr. Schwartz said. "It helps to
stave off disease, but is not a cure. Now, we have a treatment that
potentially can increase the number of long-term survivors."
"I don't think I'm back to where I was before the surgery, but I'm getting
closer," Rauch said.
So far, he's feeling good, and grateful for every day his cancer stays away.
Patients in the trial receive monthly injections for as long as the tumor
has not returned. To be eligible for the vaccine trial, patients must be
over 18, have a newly diagnosed brain tumor and have recently had surgery to
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center