Mitchell Van Homrigh and Edited for online by Joshua Bristow
The Queensland Institute for Medical Research has found exciting new results for Immunotherapy in a new trial that may help patients suffering from brain cancer.
The trial began in 2010 and has been assisting patients with recurring Glioblastoma, an aggressive strand of malignant brain tumor.
Patients with this disease have an average life expectancy of six months.
Immunotherapy involves modifying the sufferers T Cells in a laboratory and then placing them back in their body.
Study leader Dr Rajiv Kahanna says that currently the disease is treated with radio chemotherapy.
“You go and make a surgical incision and then you take the tumor out and you treat it with radio chemotherapy,” he said.
But the majority of patients relapse once the tumor is treated with a significant reduction in life expectancy.
Dr Kahanna says it is hoped the trial will change this.
“What we’ve been doing is in this trial is trying to use the patient’s own system, basically we take the white blood cells out from the patient’s body bring it into the laboratory retrain these cells and grow them in the test tube then take it back to the patient.”
These patients then receive up to six treatments and are monitored throughout.
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute group leader Professor Andrew Boyd says this process can also be applied to preventing different diseases and working in tandem with other treatments.
“This sort of treatment does provide one potential arm of combined therapy that may eventually seriously modify the course of a brain tumor,” Professor Boyd said.
Dr Kahanna agrees that while these are exciting prospects in cancer research they will have to be used in conjunction with other treatments.
“Treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy; they will never replace these treatments because we need to prove without doubt that you can actually replace one and then put another one in that place.”
One of the most exciting prospects is the lack of side effects from this procedure compared to radiotherapy
Queensland University of Technology Radiotherapy and Oncology lecturer Pete Bridge, knows the side effects associated with these procedures.
“The downside to radiation is that it will increase the chance of another malignancy occurring so if people are exposed to radiation they increase their chance of getting cancer,” Mr Bridge said.
“So we have to be very careful and balance up whether the risk of this person getting cancer later in life is outweighed by the benefit of treating them effectively with radiation.”