Vaccine against deadly brain cancer shows promise

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A small, early-stage trial of a therapeutic brain cancer vaccine developed by ImmunoCellular Therapeutics Ltd showed that nearly half the patients were alive without their cancer worsening 18 months after diagnosis, the company said on Wednesday.

The Phase 1 trial involved 16 patients with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and deadly form of brain cancer.

They were treated with ICT-107, an experimental dendritic cell based cancer vaccine, following the standard care of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

“We are targeting specific antigens that are on cancer stem cells ... the only population of cells that can really propagate a tumor,” said Dr. John Yu, director of surgical neuro-oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and ImmunoCellular’s chief scientific officer.

A year after diagnosis, all of the patients were alive. After two years, 80% were alive.

Historically, after a year with standard treatment, 61% of glioblastoma patients are alive, and 26.5% are alive after two years, according to the company.

In the ImmunoCellular trial, median overall survival had not yet been reached at the 26.4 months analysis point, with 12 out of 16 patients alive. Seven patients continued to live with no disease progression.

Side effects seen in the trial included fatigue and skin rash.

Dr. Yu said ImmunCellular is planning a mid-stage trial of the vaccine that would include between 30 and 50 patients.