Experimental brain tumour vaccine gets straight to the source


The Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Department of Neurosurgery have announced a phase 1 safety study testing the safety of a vaccine designed to target cancer stem cells in glioblastoma multiforme -the most common form of brain tumor in adults- in a bid to stop re-occurrence.

Traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments can only attack the cancer cells, which leaves the possibility of a resurgence later on. What makes this vaccine so promising is that it targets what researchers believe to be a key cancer originator. Which may well drastically increase the life expectancy of glioblastoma multiforme patients from the current median of 15 months.

CD133 protein fragments can be found in high levels on the stem cells of some brain tumours and other cancers, and it is believed that this protein is associated with the resistance of stem cells to traditional cancer treatments. After identifying this protein, researchers cultured it using powerful antigen presenting cells (dendritic cells) in order to create a vaccine capable of triggering an immune response against the CD122 proteins without causing an autoimmune reaction against normal cells.

After promising results from studies in lab mice, published online at Stem Cells Translational Medicine, the research team have moved into a preliminary phase I trail to assess the safety of possible future trials.

“CD133 is one of several proteins made at high levels in the cancer stem cells of glioblastoma multiforme. Because this protein appears to be associated with resistance of the cancer stem cells to treatment with radiation or chemotherapy or both, we see it as an ideal target for immunotherapy. We have found at least two fragments of the protein that can be targeted to trigger an immune response to kill tumor cells. We don’t know yet if the response would be strong enough to prevent a tumor from coming back, but we now have a human clinical trial underway to assess safety for further study”
John Yu, MD, vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, director of surgical neuro-oncology, medical director of the Brain Tumor Center and neurosurgical director of the Gamma Knife Program at Cedars-Sinai

This study was funded by ImmunoCellular Theraputics, who are in part owned by Cedars-Sani.

see the press release from Ceadars-Sinai here.

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