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Biologics are made with the help of microorganisms or plant or animal cells, and represent a new and promising tool in the fight against cancer.
As a prestigious brain tumor research center, we provide eligible patients with the latest biologic therapies. We are often one of the first programs in the country offering new treatments, and our team developed the first personalized vaccine for brain tumors, among other accomplishments.
Targeted Therapies for Brain Tumors at UCLA
We are part of an elite group of physicians and scientists changing the world of brain tumor care through targeted therapies. Targeted therapies work by altering or destroying specific parts or functions of tumor cells. This approach reduces the risk of harming healthy tissue.
Because of our research, we’re able to offer a broad range of targeted therapies. Options include treatments developed by UCLA Brain Tumor Center experts that are not widely available.
Targeted therapies available at UCLA include:
- Small molecule inhibitors: These therapies interrupt the cell repair process that fuels tumor growth. UCLA is among a handful of centers studying a specific kind of small molecule inhibitor to slow a mutation (IDH1 mutation) that frequently occurs in gliomas.
- Anti-angiogenesis agents: These therapies include medicines to prevent the growth and survival of new blood vessels that feed tumors.
- Gene therapy: This treatment alters the genes inside the tumor cells by replacing faulty genes or adding new ones. UCLA researchers developed the only viral gene therapy available for gliomas (Tocagen, also known as Toca-511™).
Brain Tumor Immunotherapy at UCLA
The UCLA Brain Tumor program is home to one of the nation’s foremost brain tumor immunotherapy researchers. Our efforts have led to novel treatments for complex tumors such as gliomas.
Immunotherapies harness the immune system to boost your body’s natural ability to fight disease. These therapies work by binding to tumors at a molecular level, then destroying them.
Immunotherapies available at UCLA include:
- Vaccines: Vaccines are among the most promising immunotherapies. Researchers at UCLA developed the first personalized vaccine for brain tumors (dendritic cell-based vaccine, or DCVax®). DCVax® has extended survival of many of our glioblastoma patients for more than a year, and some are thriving more than 10 years after their initial diagnosis.
- Immune checkpoint (PD-1) inhibitors: We are exploring ways to stimulate certain white blood cells (T-cells) so they become more effective in attacking and destroying cancer cells. This therapy helps patients who have not had success with other treatments or are at risk for building a treatment resistance.
We lead and participate in multi-center trials for developing the next generation of brain cancer immunotherapies. Your physician will let you know if you are eligible for a trial. Learn more about our research and clinical trials.