Abbott Northwestern Hospital part of promising trial for brain cancer treatment

For more information, contact: Tim Burke, 651-409-3030

MINNEAPOLIS 05/31/2018

A vaccine could help to significantly extend the lives of people diagnosed with the brain cancer that U.S. Sen. John McCain suffers from, glioblastoma, based on trials that Abbott Northwestern Hospital researchers took part in. A majority of patients with glioblastoma die within two years after their initial diagnosis. Results from a multicenter clinical trial of a personalized vaccine that targets primary glioblastoma has indicated improved overall survival rates for such patients.

The phase III clinical trial included 331 patients at over 80 sites in four countries and interim blinded results of this study were published on May 29th, 2018, in the Journal of Translational Medicine.

"Patients with glioblastoma currently survive for only 15 to 17 months on an average. The results from this study are promising, as the overall population in the trial appears to live longer than we would typically see with current standard of care," said Dr. John E. Trusheim, principal investigator of the study, a neuro-oncologist and the Medical Director of Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Givens Brain Tumor Center. "In general, thirty percent of the patients have lived much longer than we would expect. This group of ‘extended survivors’ don’t appear to have any unusual characteristics resulting in a favorable prognosis."

The whole group of all 331 patients in the trial (both those treated with the trial vaccine and those given only standard treatments plus placebo) had a median survival of 23.1 months. One-hundred patients (30% of the total patients in the trial) with an average overall survival of 40.5 months — more than three years — were designated as 'extended survivors.'

Abbott Northwestern Hospital participated as a clinical study site and recruited one of the largest groups of patients in the trial. The personalized vaccine used was individualized to each patient. After surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, a small amount of tumor tissue was processed to extract tumor specific proteins and then exposed to the same patient’s own immune cells, called dendritic cells. Exposure to the tumor proteins essentially trained the dendritic cells to seek out and destroy tumor cells. These trained dendritic cells were returned to the patient as a vaccine injected in the arm. The patients were randomized to receive standard therapy plus the personalized vaccine, or standard therapy plus a placebo.

The trial is currently ongoing to allow for continued study of patients who are living beyond what is expected of those diagnosed with glioblastoma.

About Abbott Northwestern Hospital

Abbott Northwestern Hospital is part of Allina Health. In addition to retaining its first place ranking for the best hospital in the Twin Cities and second in the State of Minnesota in the U.S. News & World Report's 2016-17 best hospital rankings, Abbott Northwestern has received nursing magnet certification, a recognition earned by only five percent of hospitals nationwide.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services.

Related resources

Trusheim John

Dr. John E. Trusheim, principal investigator of the study, a neuro-oncologist and the Medical Director of Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Givens Brain Tumor Center.