Glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of brain cancer, is among the deadliest forms of the disease. Treatment, according to the American Brain Tumor Association, is particularly challenging. People with the aggressive form of the disease have a median survival time of 14.6 months. 30 percent of the individuals with this form of brain cancer can expect to live for two years, ten percent for five years.
Time Magazine has reported on a new, experimental therapy using the cutting-edge immunotherapy approach to fighting cancer. A team of researchers led by Dr. Behnam Badie from the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute and Medical Center treated a 50 year-old man with advanced glioblastoma with tailored immune cells designed to express proteins that would recognize and destroy his tumor. After removing most of the tumor surgically, the man was injected with the modified immune cells at the tumor site, with the result that it stopped growing. When smaller tumors showed up in other parts of the brain, the researchers treated these as well, with the result that they all but vanished. Without the treatment, the patient would have been dead in weeks. Nine other people in the study are displaying similar outcomes.
Months after the treatment tumors started growing again in different parts of the brain for reasons that were unclear to Badie and his team. However, it looks like these tumors have different proteins than the one that was initially targeted, suggesting that the same treatment could be used with cells designed to express different proteins. The researchers are on their way to developing a precision therapy that will help to lengthen the lives of people suffering from brain cancer considerably.
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