Brain tumour immunotherapy, particularly DCVax is gaining an increasing amount of media coverage and interest. We are seeing a growing number of calls to our brain tumour support helpline about DCVax and brain tumour immunotherapy. Here we shed some light on the current state of play for one particular brain tumour immunotherapy trial and some recently published results.
Helen Bulbeck, brainstrust’s Director of Services begins by saying, “It is encouraging to see brain tumour treatments and trials hitting the news, and even better to see Kat Charles doing so well having taken engaged with the DCVax programme [read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44288503] We’ve worked closely with the Charles family on this journey and this is the outcome that we all hoped for. As ever, though, this BBC reporting needs a little tempering. It isn’t quite accurate and this can lead to raising false hope amongst a vulnerable community. We need to share the facts so that people get the info they need.”
We have worked with DCVax owner NorthWest Biotherapeutics, and the UK clinical community to bring you the latest information on the DCVax immunotherapy treatment, right here.
What you need to know about DCVax
DCVax is looking promising but currently the trial is closed and is in set up for the next phase. It is going to be a while before this treatment is accessible. And when it is? Well, it will only be suitable for a minority who fulfil the trial criteria and even then some of these patients will not succeed. The results make interesting reading; this is some of what we know:
- The study took 7 years to recruit patients (there was a 2yr funding gap).
- 1599 were screened for the trial but only 20.7% – 331 – completed it.
- Those patients who have a good surgical resection of the tumour do better.
- Patients are randomised after chemo and radiotherapies so people who are going to be poor survivors are taken out.
- Quite a number failed to successfully make vaccine – 337 in total. So even if you are successful in getting on the trial, it isn’t a given that it will be successful.
- Surgery is a good treatment for GBM – those with gross resection (which is more likely in frontal lobe) do well. But this might be down to the surgeon rather than the treatment.
Caution tempered with hope
It is uplifting to hear of a therapy that might have impact but we are still a long way from finding something that works for the majority, or is even a cure.
A spokesperson from North West Biotherapeutics, which is behind the trial, expresses caution tempered with hope:
“Despite the tremendous potential shown by immune therapies in many cancers and the striking data achieved in many of them, GBM remains a cancer that has stubbornly refused to respond to almost everything thrown at it. The potential to break this deadlock would lead the way forward for new therapies that could redefine survival on this disease. The North West Bio trial is not yet complete but we hope that one day we will be able to participate in the revolution we all hope for in this disease.”
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