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What new treatments are being developed for glioblastoma?

Linda M. Liau, MD
Neurosurgery
New treatments under development for glioblastoma include drugs that target various mutations on different subtypes of the tumor. Brain tumor researchers say the most promising areas for future study are genetic profiling and immunotherapy. Immune-based therapies currently in clinical trials use treatments that enable the immune system to kill tumor cells by activating dormant T cells against tumor cells (using tumor vaccines) and by targeting immunosuppressive factors, which impede the immune system from successful tumor control (using agents known as immune checkpoint inhibitors).

The fundamental problem with brain tumors is that, despite treatment, they tend to come back. The promise of immunotherapy and vaccines is that the immune system can hopefully prevent the cancer from returning. Researchers have developed the first dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccine for brain tumors, known as DCVax, to be used in humans.  A few decades ago, most experts believed it was not possible because of the blood-brain barrier for people to mount an immune response to brain cancers. Experts have found that these tumor vaccines can not only mount an immune response, but that a significant percentage of people have had no recurrence for more than 10 years, which for glioblastoma is very rare.
 
This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.

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