A new study published in Nature, the world’s top scientific journal, shows major promise for a vaccine that helps the immune system fight brain tumors.
All brain tumors are difficult to treat, but diffuse gliomas stand out as especially difficult. They spread silently around the brain, making them difficult to remove with surgery. However, over 70% of them share a common trait: they have a single gene mutation on an enzyme called IDH1. This mutation is unique to gliomas, and it’s what makes this new vaccine possible.
In 2015, 33 patients with newly diagnosed brain tumors (carrying the IDH1 gene) enrolled in a Phase 1 clinical study for an IDH1 tumor vaccine.
While a Phase 1 trial is more about proving safety than effectiveness, this IDH1 trial did show notable effectiveness. 93 percent of patients displayed an effective response to the vaccine.
The lead investigator on the study, Dr. Michael Platten, of the German Cancer Research Center, cautioned that we can’t draw broad conclusions from this study without a control group, but did say that the safety and positive immune response are a convincing reason to continue pursuing this vaccine concept.
With continued study and development, this research has the hope of being one of the most promising developments in drug development for gliomas that we’ve seen in a long time.