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Brain Cancer Vaccine Raises Hopes for Survival Time

Comstock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Researchers have created a vaccine against the most common adult brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, and evidence suggests it may help to extend patients' lives.

Results from the new phase II clinical trial were presented Tuesday at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meeting in Miami.  The researchers, led by University of California -- San Francisco neurosurgeon Andrew Parsa, MD, PhD, found that the new vaccine has been successful at extending the lives of patients with recurrent brain cancer after surgery by several months.  Six-month survival after treatment improved from 68 percent to 93 percent.

"These results are provocative.  They suggest that doctors may be able to extend survival even longer by combining the vaccine with other drugs that enhance this immune response," Parsa said in a UCSF news release.

With 17,000 new patients diagnosed with glioblastoma each year, and only 2 percent surviving longer than five years, Parsa says the cancer always returns -- it's just a matter of when.

In general, cancer vaccines represent a new technology, with the only one clinically approved being used in prostate cancer.  While not touted as a cure, these positive results have already put plans into motion to combine the new therapy with other chemotherapy agents, in phase III clinical trials planned to start later this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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