Celldex Therapy Extends Life for Those With Brain Cancer

Patients who have brain cancer and have no effective treatment options can lengthen their life using the cancer vaccine developed by Celldex Therapeutics Inc. During the midstage tests, 5 patients out of 36 were able to outlive expected years by 2 years after being diagnosed with glioblastoma and then being given the vaccine.

The vaccine helps in relapsed glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. The patients who were part of the tests showed some encouraging results when they were treated using Celldex’s treatment combined with cancer drug Avastin. When Avastin was given alone without Celldex’s vaccine, patients didn’t live that long. Celldex’s treatment is called Rintega.

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Rintega helps the body to fight glioblastoma and therefore helps brain cancer patients live longer. “This is the first randomized study for this indication” said David Reardon, who is one of the doctors at Dana Farber Cancer Institure in Bostin.“Many of us are very excited. For a number of reasons, this provides some proof of principle that immunotherapy can help brain cancer” said Reardon.  Immunotherapy is an approach to fighting cancer that uses the power of the body’s immune system, related to how a vaccine helps the immune system recognize and attack disease.

The study looked at 73 patients randomly assigned to take either Rintega and Roche Holding AG’s Avastin or a placebo and Avastin. Among the group on Rintega, 44 percent lived through the first year, while only 32 percent of those in the control group did. That difference was significant, according to Reardon.

Glioblastoma is an especially deadly form of cancer, with about 13,000 new cases every year in the U.S., according tothe U.S. National Institutes of Health. More than 96 percent of patients die within five years of diagnosis.

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“This is a terribly challenging tumor and the most malignant and aggressive that we deal with in our surgery,” Ian Dunn, a brain surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said Thursday in an interview. The study authors “have really provided some exciting data in this very challenging population that really draws on, and is an extension of, their commitment to how the immune system can be revved up to fight cancers of the brain.”

Immune-system-based cancer treatments have had positive results in skin and lung cancers. “It’s traditionally been thought to be even more challenging in the brain,” Dunn said. But the evidence suggests “that the vaccination has been effective in this case.”

Patients on Rintega showed other positive responses: more of them were able to stop taking steroids for their disease, and more saw their tumors reduce in size, compared with those on placebo. There were no serious side effects attributed to the drug, according to the study.

Read original article:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-20/celldex-therapy-extends-life-for-those-with-deadly-brain-cancer

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