Renewed Hope for Brain Tumor Patients

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UCLA Research Treats Deadly Cancer with Subject’s Own White Blood Cells

Average life expectancy for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer is between 15 to 17 months under standard forms of treatment. Under a recent study headed by Dr. Linda Lau, Professor of Neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, raised the median life expectancy to 22.1 months.

Even more noteworthy is that of the 331 participants in the study (conducted between July 2007 and November 2015), nearly 1/3 are still alive today.

Unique to the treatment is its use of the tumor itself as the key source of cancer fighting white.blood cells in a vaccine called DCVax-L. The vaccine uses tissue proteins from the brain tumor itself, which is surgically removed before treatment begins. These are combined with dendritic immune cells (white blood cells) from the patients own blood, which are activated in a lab to fight the cancer and then are injected back into the patient.

Ultimately, the vaccine is personalized to the patient and has been described as a way of essentially re-programming or re-training the immune system to fight a cancer it had previously been unable to attack on its own.

Given the encouraging results of the DCVax-L vaccine, Dr. Lau and her team are working on ways to combine the use of the vaccine with other treatments in the hopes of further extending the life expectancy of glioblastoma moving forward. Considering the progress made thus far, there’s good reason to be optimistic and hopeful.


Jack Raplee is a Queens native with over 20 years of journalistic experience covering industries as varied as entertainment, manufacturing, engineering and consumer electronics as well as hard news. Apart from writing, he has enjoyed additional exposure in radio work, standup comedy and modeling. While his career trajectory has brought him far and wide, living in places like Nassau, Bahamas; Sungnam, Korea; and Jackson, Mississippi he always seems to end up in his native NYC. Jack is currently working on a yet-to-be-titled book providing his unique perspective on his native Queens as seen from the table of a local diner.

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