Brain Cancer Vaccine Doubles Survival Time

Kennedy could be a candidate for breakthrough therapy
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2008 11:41 AM CDT
To be eligible for the new vaccine, a patient must have had a successful surgery to remove the malignant tumor. The vaccine gets help from the body's immune system to fight the cancer cells.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – A new vaccine more than doubles the expected survival time of patients with the most common form of brain cancer, Reuters reports. Although the test group was small, patients lived an average of 33 months—"almost unheard of" compared to the average of 14 months, says one doctor. The drug also boosts the body's immune response.

Fears that the vaccine could trigger the immune system to attack itself seem unfounded so far; the drug simply delivers what researchers call a "phenomenal" immune reaction. If Sen. Edward Kennedy's recent tumor-removal surgery was successful, he might be a candidate for the new treatment, though the researchers say they "don't know if he is interested at this point."