Brain Cancer Vaccine
December 16, 2005
LOS ANGELES -- For your health: A vaccine that may save some people from brain cancer.
The work is being done at UCLA. One of the subjects, a local musician, is alive three years after treatment
For Kevin Carlberg, 2002 was the "best of times and the worst of times."
His band, Pseudo-Pod, just signed a record deal and was on tour with a new CD. Then, Kevin's health hit a sour note.
"We were in Colorado, and I started getting these horrible headaches," said Carlberg.
The cause: a deadly brain tumor.
But life goes on, literally. After surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Kevin entered a study to see if an experimental vaccine could keep the cancer from coming back.
"I mean, so far, so good. It's been, come November 18th, three years since, since surgery and no regrowth," said Carlberg.
Surprising? Yes, considering the type of tumor Kevin had is almost 100 percent fatal.
"The problem with brain cancer is that even with very little tumor cells left, the tumor comes back. It comes back in a matter of months," said Dr. Linda Liau, UCLA.
Doctor Linda Liau helped develop the vaccine at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center. Made from the patient's own tumor and white blood cells, it's designed to attack brain cancer cells.
"The whole concept is to alert your immune system that these cells are abnormal and that your body should get rid of them."
Patients with brain cancer typically survive about 15 months. So far, Kevin is beating the odds.
"I just ran the L.A. marathon. I have a brand new baby daughter. Life couldn't be any better as far as I'm concerned," said Carlberg.
Doctor Liau will soon expand the brain cancer vaccine study to 10 or 12 other sites.
Viewers can contact local cancer center or log on to the Clinical Trials Website
About 29,000 Americans are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year.
Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer death for children and the second leading cause of cancer death for adults. This year, about 13,000 Americans will die from a brain tumor.
Traditional treatment for brain tumors is surgery. But sometimes that's not possible, or stray cells are left behind, causing the tumor to eventually reappear.
Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center are testing a new vaccine for patients with primary brain tumors. It is hoped that the custom-made vaccine will help the body recognize and attack the tumor cells, preventing regrowth of the tumor.
For more details, refer to our comprehensive research summary.
For general information on brain tumors:
American Brain Tumor Association, http://hope.abta.org
Brain Tumor Society, http://www.tbts.org
National Brain Tumor Foundation, http://www.braintumor.org
National Cancer Institute, http://www.nci.nih.go
Original source: http://www.nbc4.tv