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Customized Treatment Combats Most Lethal Brain Tumor

14 JAN 2014

This week, the AAPS blog discusses new research regarding treatment of glioblastomamultiforme(GBM). This most deadly of brain tumors afflicts tens of thousands Americans and Canadians every year. Symptoms are diverse and numerous, including seizure, speech impairment and personality change, partial paralysis and severe headache.  According to the blog post, Customized Treatment Combats Most Lethal Brain Tumor, traditional treatment options of patients with GBM are uninspiring – and most often ineffective in prolonging life. The post explains that:

Patients diagnose with recurrent glioblastomamultiforme (GBM), the most aggressive form of primary brain tumor, face a bleak survival rate of 3 to 9 months.  Typically, patients are treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation – but these traditional techniques simply can not keep up with an alarmingly fast rate of growth.  GBM tumors are notoriously resistant to standard therapies, and remain one of the most dreaded diagnoses because despite treatment, they almost always come back. This is why clinical research in the field is so important, and why a new study from Northwestern Memorial Hospital is receiving positive attention.

Researchers at Northwestern, headed by study chair Dr. Andrew Parsa, have discovered a new way of jump-starting the body’s immune system, prompting it to attack the invading cells. This is achieved by using samples of the patient’s own tumor to formulate a vaccine, which is then injected to launch the offensive action. So far, results have been promising, and a phase two study that incorporates the standard drug Avastin has already begun. Researchers hope to determine whether the combination therapy increases rates of survival for patients with recurring tumors.