UCLA researchers develop immunotherapy to treat advanced brain cancer

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Reggie Kumar

UCLA researchers have developed a new cancer treatment that uses a vaccine to activate an immune response against advanced brain tumors.

The three-year study led by UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center members Robert Prins, Dr. Linda Liau and Dr. Timothy Cloughesy, showed for the first time that a dendritic cell vaccine in combination with the antibody blockade of an immune cell surface receptor known as PD-1, generates a more effective immune response against glioblastoma than the use of either treatment alone.

Glioblastoma is considered the deadliest form of brain cancer; it is estimated that median survival following traditional treatments, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, is generally 14 to18 months.

According to the new findings, which are published in the journal JCI Insight, the new therapy harnesses an antibody blockade to prevent the brain cancer cells from shielding themselves from the patient’s immune cells. This allows the body’s immune response to recognize and attack the brain tumor.

“These findings are the first that specifically outline the mechanism by which an effective immune response can be seen in tumors located in the brain,” said Prins, an associate professor in the department of neurosurgery at UCLA. 

Read the full news release.