The approach with this particular vaccine is unique, Lesser added, because it is targeting the antigens or proteins that are present on glioma stem cells, whereas other treatment approaches mostly target differentiated tumor cells.
"The antigens used in this vaccine target the tumor stem cells -- the handful of cells that keep the tumor alive and dividing. Most of the cells we kill with standard treatment are likely not the ones driving the tumor growth. If the stem cells aren't targeted, they keep generating more tumors."
According to the biotechnology company that is conducting the trial, the Phase I clinical study of ICT-107 in GBM involved 16 newly-diagnosed patients who received the vaccine in addition to standard therapy -- surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Those patients demonstrated a one-year overall survival of 100 percent and a two-year survival of 80 percent. Although only a small number of patients were treated, these results compare favorably with historical 61percent one-year and 26 percent two-year survival with standard care alone.
They're also working on a version for lower-grade gliomas. Sounds like it's not perfect and 16 patients is pretty close to the line between "data" and "anecdote," but this just might be the answer I've been waiting for. I guess with this - as with so much else - we will have to wait and see.