Vaccine created from patient white blood cells to target brain tumors

Friday, July 27, 2012 08:13 AM

Researchers at Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute (NBTI) are seeking to understand if a vaccine made from a patient's own blood cells may slow the growth of glioblastoma multiformes (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumor.

"Glioblastomas are complicated to treat because they are aggressive, fast-growing tumors that are often resistant to standard treatment," said principal investigator James Chandler, M.D., co-director of the NBTI and surgical director of neuro-oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "In this trial, a vaccine is made using the person's own white blood cells, which we hope will have the power to stimulate an immune response to kill brain tumor cells."

The vaccine, called ICT-107, is created by collecting the participant's white blood cells through a process called apheresis, which separates the components in the blood. The white blood cells are then treated to recognize the tumor cells turning them into immune cells, which early research indicates may be able to recognize and attack the tumor cells. Patients receive the vaccine in addition to standard treatment.

The phase II trial will examine both safety and efficacy of the ICT-107 vaccine. Researchers seek to enroll approximately 225 participants nationally who are newly diagnosed with a GBM. To be considered for enrollment, a person must be 18 years or older and not have a recurrent disease or any other active malignancy or history of malignancy. They must have undergone surgery to excise the GBM, but have not yet started chemotherapy or radiation. Full inclusion and exclusion criteria can be found on ClinicalTrials.gov.

"GBMs are a devastating diagnosis and these patients unfortunately are not given a great deal of time," said Chandler. "Our goal at Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute is to provide patients with the best options to treat their cancer in a manner that not only gives them longer lives, but also improved quality of life."

The trial is an example of a growing trend in cancer research that seeks to understand if vaccines can be used to turn a person's own immune system into a weapon against cancers by slowing the growth of tumors.

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