A new vaccine is showing promise for treating glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain cancer.
The vaccine is currently being offered through a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic under the supervision of neurosurgeon Kent New, M.D., Ph.D.
The vaccine has significantly increased life expectancy in early tests of patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
Around 40 per cent of brain tumours display a particular protein on their surface. The vaccine is designed in such a way that it tricks the patient's immune system into thinking that the protein is "foreign" so as to mount a killing response.
"We are pleased to have a new and promising therapy to offer patients who want to participate in this clinical trial. The results, so far, have exceeded expectations," Dr. New said.
Earlier studies of the vaccine had revealed that the median survival for the 39 GBM patients tested increased by more than 50 percent compared to the typical outcome.
Also, the time taken by the tumours to grow back again was doubled after being treated with the vaccine.
However, Dr. New cautioned that it is unknown whether the vaccine added to standard treatment of the cancer would ultimately produce any better outcome than the standard treatment alone.
"By comparing standard therapy plus the vaccine to standard therapy alone, we hope to determine the true benefit of the vaccine" he said.