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Brain cancer vaccine successfully tested on humans

Brain cancer vaccine successfully tested on humans Brain cancer vaccine successfully tested on humans (photo: Freepik)

Scientists have developed a vaccine against glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain cancer. The treatment prolonged the survival of four people in the first clinical trial of its kind. The vaccine was developed using the same technology as COVID-19 vaccines, reports Science Alert.

What is known about vaccine

The vaccine allows the immune system to recognize the tumor and shows where each gene in the tumor can be turned on or off. With this information, the immune system can reprogram its defense against cancer and initiate a more successful attack.

During a recent clinical trial, four patients with treatment-resistant glioblastoma received two or four doses of the vaccine. This led to significant and rapid immune activation.

Just a few hours after receiving the vaccine, researchers noticed a surge in pro-inflammatory proteins that attract killer leukocytes.

There were side effects such as nausea, low temperature, and chills, which gradually disappeared within the next day or two.

"In less than 48 hours, we could see these tumors shifting from what we refer to as 'cold' – immune cold, very few immune cells, very silenced immune response – to 'hot,' very active immune response," explains oncologist and pioneer of the vaccine research, Elias Sayour from the University of Florida.

The study shows that it is possible to quickly activate the early part of the immune system against these types of cancers, which is critical for unlocking late immune response effects.

What survival chances vaccine offers

Patients treated for glioblastoma with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery could live about six months without disease progression.

Thanks to the new vaccine, one patient survived eight months without progression, and another survived nine months.

A third patient survived an additional nine months with recurrent glioblastoma. Exact information on the survival of the fourth patient, who is the first participant in the expanded phase 1 clinical trial, has not yet been provided. Typically, the average lifespan with recurrent glioblastoma ranges from five to eight months.

Previous studies on animals

Earlier, the vaccine was tested on 10 pet dogs with brain tumors. Dogs with this terminal diagnosis and no other treatment typically have a survival rate of 35 days. With the vaccine, this number jumped to 139 days.

"I am hopeful that this could be a new paradigm for how we treat patients, a new platform technology for how we can modulate the immune system," says Sayour.

The new cancer vaccine is based on the same technology as COVID-19 vaccines but with several key differences.

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