BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Senator John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis made headlines last week. Glioblastoma is the type of tumor and the prognosis is usually a difficult one. Patients typically live an average of 14 months.
There is a vaccine that continues to be developed in Buffalo aimed at changing that.
Ten years ago, Dr. Robert Fenstermaker, who is the head of neurosurgery at Roswell Park in Buffalo, began a study on an immunotherapy treatment aimed at treating glioblastoma. Today the name of that vaccine is SurVaxM. It continues to show promise. Fenstermaker says they have seen survival rates reach four and five years in the initial clinical trial.
"That was what we observed in a phase one study... We've gone on to a phase two study of many more patients and are seeing good results there as well," he said.
Fenstermaker also says that while the results are promising, FDA approval is likely still several years away.
"It's going to take a big study of about 600 patients, so that's probably going to take another four or five years before it's ready to go out for general use," he explained.
The Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center have joined in the study that continues to be led by Roswell Park.
Funds from the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, supported by events like the Ride for Roswell, were responsible for getting the initial phases of the trial underway, and continue to support the study.