This item has been filed in | News
Print This Post Print This Post

Miller School Begins Clinical Trial of Brain Cancer Vaccine for Recurrent Cases

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...
    Ricardo Komotar, assistant professor of neurological surgery, is leading a clinical trial that will test the effectiveness of a vaccine on patients with recurrent brain tumors.

    Ricardo Komotar, assistant professor of neurological surgery, is leading a clinical trial that will test the effectiveness of a vaccine on patients with recurrent brain tumors.

    David Roberts knew his brain tumor had returned when he started experiencing dizzy spells and shaking on the left side of his body last April, not long after he completed radiation treatment. “Vision problems in my left eye led me to the doctor and my first diagnosis,” recalls Roberts. “I knew it was back.”

    Now, the 70-year-old retired agricultural engineer has new hope. In a clinical trial being conducted in Florida only by the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, researchers are testing the effectiveness of a revolutionary vaccine on patients whose brain tumors return after treatment. The heat shock protein vaccine had previously been given only to patients with newly diagnosed cases of the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer—glioblastoma multiforme.

    “We’re taking the same principle behind the original vaccine and now examining how it works in patients who have had their tumor return,” said Ricardo Komotar, M.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery, who is leading the clinical trial.

    The vaccine, created using the patient’s own tumor cells, targets the immune system, activating a patient-specific T cell response without injuring normal neural and glial structures. “Our hope is that the heat shock protein sparks the patient’s immune system to view the tumor cells as foreign material and fight them,” explained Komotar, who is also co-director of surgical neuro-oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “If this proves successful, perhaps malignant brain tumors may have an improved prognosis.”

    Roberts and a second patient have already undergone the initial phase of having their tumors surgically removed by Komotar at University of Miami Hospital. It was Roberts’ oncologist at UHealth at Plantation, Assistant Professor of Medicine Israel Wiznitzer, M.D., who suggested that he consider a clinical trial after his tumor returned. Roberts’ son, Jeffery, then did some research and learned that Komotar led the first clinical trial for new cases of glioblastoma multiforme in early 2012 and would soon be starting one for recurrent cases. Roberts’ surgery was July 9, and he and his wife Audrey now wait to hear when they will return for the vaccinations along with chemotherapy.

    As he recovers, Roberts is upbeat about the vaccine’s potential. “I really felt it was beneficial to us and for patients of the future,” he said.

    Difficulty speaking was the first symptom that Michael Robiou of Orlando noticed in July 2012. Days after going to the ER, the 50-year-old Walt Disney World employee was having brain surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. When the tumor returned in June of this year, his oncologist recommended he see Komotar. His surgery was July 22 and now he’s recovering at home in Hollywood, where he’s moved to be closer to family.

    Early results of the heat shock protein have been promising, extending life expectancy with few side effects. Says Komotar, “We’re hopeful that this type of approach will be successful, offering another option to patients with an aggressive disease.”

    Patients who are randomized into the trial will receive injections of the vaccine in addition to a protocol of chemotherapy.

    Robiou’s sister, Rebeca Alberti, says she’s hopeful the vaccine will work for Michael as well as other patients. “The more people who get awareness and learn about this, the better.”


    Comments are closed.

    • Related Stories
    • Tags
    • Popular
    • Subscribe
    • Subscribe to the Veritas RSS Feed
      Get updates to all of the latest Veritas posts by clicking the logo at the right.

      You can also subscribe to specific categories by browsing to a particular section on our site and clicking the RSS icon below each section's header.

    UM Facebook

    UM Twitter