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The Power of Donations in Extending Lives for Brain Cancer Patients

The Power of Donations in Extending Lives for Brain Cancer Patients

In recent years, donations from Roswell Park supporters like you have provided the critical funding needed to develop a promising brain cancer vaccine and test it in phase I and II clinical trials.

Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive form of primary brain cancer in adults, with approximately 14,000 cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. It’s a deadly disease that’s difficult to treat because even with surgery, cancer cells are often left behind, and patients relapse. But Roswell Park’s Robert Fenstermaker, MD, Chair of Neurosurgery, and Michael Ciesielski, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology, had an idea to target and destroy glioblastoma cells containing a protein called survivin.

After a promising phase I study of the vaccine, a multi-site phase II study launched in 2015. The latest results are in: SurVaxM has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated, and has extended survival beyond that seen with standard therapy alone. In fact, when the results of the study were revealed in November, 94.2 percent of study participants were alive one year after their diagnosis, compared with 65 percent of patients in a historical group that received modern standard-of- care therapy. 

“We continue to be encouraged by the results we’re seeing,” says Dr. Fenstermaker. “We’re thankful for the donations that have brought us to this point and eager to bring this treatment to more patients as soon as we can.”

As a next step, SurVaxM will be offered to adult patients through a randomized controlled clinical study that could be available at 15 or more different centers nationally in the next year. 

And now, more patients, including children and teens, could have access to SurVaxM thanks to continued support donor support.

The survivin protein is also present in glioblastoma and medulloblastoma tumors in children, so this younger group might also stand to benefit from survivin-targeted treatment with SurVaxM. Roswell Park is in the unique position to launch another clinical trial that could give hope for pediatric brain cancers that haven’t seen progress in more than a decade. 

Both studies will only be made possible with the help of continuing donor generosity.

“We have young patients right now who we feel could benefit from SurVaxM,” says Laura Wiltsie, DO, Clinical Fellow in Pediatrics at Roswell Park. “This gives hope.”