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June 05, 2012 // By Kim Menard // Comments

Penn Medicine Team Investigates Novel Immunotherapy Techniques for High Grade (Grade IV) Brain Tumors

Brain and Behavior // Cancer // Clinical Trials // Immunology // Personalized Medicine // Translational Research Share this article

Neuro-oncologist researchers at Penn are investigating ways to help patients diagnosed with the most aggressive type of brain tumor, Glioblastoma Multiforme. Building on the Abramson Cancer Center's previous success with research designed to attempt to treat cancers using novel immunotherapies, and Penn's neuro-oncology expertise, researchers will be studying two different personalized approaches to stimulate an immune response against brain tumor cells.

In one study, the investigational immunotherapy will target peptides that are overrepresented in cancer stem cells, and will potentially train the immune system to recognize the glioblastoma tumor cells and hopefully inactivate them.

A slightly different approach will be used in the second study, where the investigational vaccine aims to incite an immune response by activating the cells that signal for help. The vaccine binds to a type of cell called antigen presenting cells, which attract attention from the immune system to recognize the malignant cells.

In both studies, newly diagnosed patients will have their own cells removed, from their tumor during an initial surgery or from their blood after surgery, by Penn Neurosurgeon Donald O'Rourke, MD, of Penn's Neuro-Oncology program and the Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. O’Rourke has previously studied other novel treatment approaches and developed non-invasive techniques to distinguish variations in tumor types.

Once the cells are obtained during surgery and post-surgically apheresis procedure, they will be re-engineered, tested and placed back into the patient. The patient's own cells are intended to recognize the tough-to-treat tumor cells and hopefully inactivate them.

If you have been recently diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme and have not yet had surgery, please contact Neurosurgery Clinical Research trial coordinator Lisa Pritchett at 215-615-4597 or lisa.pritchett@uphs.upenn.eduto find out if you may be eligible for either of these glioblastoma research studies.

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