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Study Results: Immunotherapy Drug Shows Promise for Adult Glioblastoma Patients When Treated Before Surgery

03/08/19

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles seeking new treatments for glioblastoma found that adult patients who were treated with an immunotherapy drug before brain tumor removal survived nearly twice as long as those treated with the same drug after surgery.

These groundbreaking results published by Nature Medicine are the first to suggest that this class of cancer treatments called checkpoint inhibitors, which unleash the immune system to attack malignant cells, benefit glioblastoma patients when treated before surgery. Following this success, the treatment will be expanded to more adult patients this year.

Robert Prins, professor of neurosurgery at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study, says in a recent Bloomberg article that, “it’s the first signal we’ve seen of the clinical benefit, but we don’t want to jump to conclusions that we’ve cured this kind of tumor. What it did was give us important information that the timing of treatment mattered.”

Through the Brain Tumor Funders Collaborative (BTFC), the PBTF is currently funding another immunotherapy project led by Prins, including a proposal similar to this study.

Dr. Joanne Salcido, vice president of research and advocacy at the PBTF, says, “the results in adults with recurrent glioblastoma are astonishing and tremendously encouraging. These highly aggressive brain tumors also occur in children, but they are too biologically different from those in adults to tell the extent that these results apply at this time. Nevertheless, these findings are catalytic and inform future pediatric brain tumor research in the fields of immunotherapy and the tumor microenvironment.”

Read more about the study and the PBTF and BTFC’s recently funded immunotherapy research grants.