What Is a Glioblastoma Vaccine? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
The glioblastoma vaccine helps the patient to fight their cancer more effectively.
The glioblastoma vaccine helps the patient to fight their cancer more effectively.

A glioblastoma vaccine is a type of therapeutic vaccine available to patients with glioblastoma to help them fight their cancer more effectively. Rather than being preventative, this vaccine is part of the treatment process used to manage and hopefully eradicate the patient's cancer. Clinical trials conducted in 2010 and 2011 showed that use of a vaccine could radically improve outcomes for glioblastoma patients. Patient eligibility for a vaccine can depend on the specifics of the cancer and the patient's other health issues.

On average, patients who are diagnosed with glioblastoma live less than one year.
On average, patients who are diagnosed with glioblastoma live less than one year.

Patients with glioblastoma typically undergo surgery to remove the tumor, or as much of it as possible, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. One common issue with glioblastoma is recurrence, where the cancer reappears after a period of remission. The glioblastoma vaccine targets this issue by sensitizing the patient's immune system to certain proteins expressed on the surface of the cancer cells. The immune system learns to attack these cells, killing them and preventing the recurrence of cancer.

As long as the glioblastoma vaccine remains in clinical trials, it will not be available to general members of the public.
As long as the glioblastoma vaccine remains in clinical trials, it will not be available to general members of the public.

The vaccine can be tailored to a specific tumor for the most effective treatment. Cancers can be variable, which is one reason their responses to treatment can be so disparate; one patient may respond very well to a chemotherapy medication, for example, while another does not. This is the result of slightly different proteins in the rogue cells responsible for the cancer. When a treatment is tailored to the patient, the medication or vaccine can precisely target that patient's cancer for the best results.

Vaccines may be developed in pharmaceutical research labs.
Vaccines may be developed in pharmaceutical research labs.

Part of treatment for glioblastoma can involve a glioblastoma vaccine to help the patient fight the cancer and keep it at bay in the future. A doctor may consider this option if the patient appears to be a good candidate for vaccination. It is not possible to prevent glioblastoma with a vaccination, as the glioblastoma vaccine does not work like preventative vaccines do, by sensitizing the immune system to fight pathogens. Since there is no way to predict precisely what form a glioblastoma might take if it arises, the patient cannot get a preventative treatment.

Patients with glioblastoma typically undergo surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy.
Patients with glioblastoma typically undergo surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy.

As long as the glioblastoma vaccine remains in clinical trials, it will not be available to general members of the public. Patients with an interest in experimental treatments under development can talk to their doctors. The doctor can determine if any clinical trials are enrolling patients and can check for eligibility to see if a patient can be referred to a trial. Costs of treatment associated with the vaccine are covered by the trial.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • The glioblastoma vaccine helps the patient to fight their cancer more effectively.
      The glioblastoma vaccine helps the patient to fight their cancer more effectively.
    • On average, patients who are diagnosed with glioblastoma live less than one year.
      On average, patients who are diagnosed with glioblastoma live less than one year.
    • As long as the glioblastoma vaccine remains in clinical trials, it will not be available to general members of the public.
      As long as the glioblastoma vaccine remains in clinical trials, it will not be available to general members of the public.
    • Vaccines may be developed in pharmaceutical research labs.
      Vaccines may be developed in pharmaceutical research labs.
    • Patients with glioblastoma typically undergo surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy.
      Patients with glioblastoma typically undergo surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy.
    • Chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic, and may cause hair loss in some patients.
      Chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic, and may cause hair loss in some patients.