Dr. Michael Schlitt, Neurosurgery

Recent Study Reveals Interesting Information About GBM

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Patients who are treated with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) have a potential vaccine that may improve survival time.  This experimental vaccine is made from the patient’s own resected tumor tissue.  Over the past few years, this procedure has helped some people to extend their lives longer than those who are diagnosed with GBM and are treated with standard care.

A study from the journal Neuro-Oncology known as the “phase 2 trial” took 41 patients with GBM-related tumors during the years of 2007 to 2011.  Each adult received an average of six doses from a vaccine called HSPPC-96.  After treatment, over 35 patients were still alive within six months.  After a year, 12 were still alive.

While no cancer vaccines have been approved for GBM, doctors are looking at these results with hopes that the future may hold a vaccine for people with recurrent tumors that can extend life and possibly convert this form of cancer into a chronic disease (a livable condition with the proper medication).

This is extremely exciting news with the current survival time after diagnosis ranging anywhere from three to nine months for those with GBM.

The real downfall to efforts of extending life with GBM is that because it is such a fast growing tumor it almost always returns.  This makes GBM one of the most defeating diagnoses there is.

Orin Bloch, a neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital is very interested in the vaccine.  He mentioned his belief that the vaccine “can change” the poor outcomes that have plagued this cancer for years.

Because the vaccine is individualized with each patient (coming from the individual’s resected tumor tissue) researchers are also curious if adding Avastin, a drug that shrinks brain tumors, would extend the life of the patient with the assistance of the individualized HSPPC-96 vaccine.


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