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Hoag joins clinical trial for brain cancer treatment

Therapeutic vaccine aims to extend life for patients diagnosed with aggressive form of brain cancer

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: April 26, 2012 10:25 AM

Newport Beach’s Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian has joined a clinical trial for a new experimental therapeutic vaccine treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer. The hospital’s Neurosciences Institute is the only health center in Orange County participating in the study of the DCVax-L treatment.

Dr. Christopher Duma, the director of the Hoag Neurosciences Institute Brain Tumor Program, is leading Hoag’s trial. The clinical study has been authorized by the FDA and is sponsored by Northwest Biotherapeutics, the Maryland-based research and biotechnology company that manufactures DCVax-L.

The treatment is designed to target to the most common form of malignant brain tumor and the most serious form of primary brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM); the condition is nearly always terminal. The current prognosis for patients diagnosed with GBM and undergoing a standard care regimen of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy is approximately 14.6 months.

The trial is designed to determine the effectiveness of the DCVax-L treatment at stimulating a patient’s immune response to the cancer. A therapeutic vaccine, the treatment is administered to stimulate an immune response to a disease that the patient already has, instead of prior to its development, in the case of a preventative vaccine.

The DCVax-L treatment is personalized for each patient; samples of blood and tumor tissue are collected and sent to a lab to create an individualized therapeutic vaccine unique to the patient. In the case that the treatment is successful, the immune response may prevent the continued growth of the tumor or cause it to shrink, and extend the patient’s life. In earlier clinical trials, patients who received the DCVax-L treatment demonstrated an extended rate of survival of approximately three years, doubling the current median survival rate.

“At Hoag, we are always looking for new advanced treatment options for the brain tumor patients in our community,” said Duma.

The randomized clinical trial is open to newly diagnosed patients; a pool of 240 cases will be selected for the trial, with 160 patients receiving the DCVax-L treatment. The remaining patients will be given a placebo; however, patients in the placebo group who experience a decline in their condition will be given the option to receive the DCVax-L treatment.

Hoag’s Neurosciences Institute is one of only a handful of healthcare institutions across the country participating in the Phase II clinical trial for DCVax-L.

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