King’s College London trials brain tumour vaccine

King’s College London trials brain tumour vaccine

A brain cancer vaccine, DCVax®-L, created individually for each GBM patient from their own dendritic cells, can extend life following surgery for many months and even years according to the interim results of a Phase III Clinical trial taking place across Europe. 

King’s College Hospital, London, originally launched the first trial in Europe of the DCVax®-L therapy, a decade ago. The brain tumour ‘vaccine’ uses the patient’s own immune cells - their dendritic cells - isolated from their blood and then 'primed' with biomarkers from that individual's own specific tumour. In effect, this is a personalised 'immunotherapy'.

Now the first results are coming in from the first phase of the Clinical Trial (1). In American trials the vaccine extended survival times significantly.

At CANCERactive we have been following the high potential developments of Dendritic vaccines with GBM.

There is also an overview of the potential for DCVax from 2009 (2)

And there is also a report on the early stages of the King's College Research (3)

Go to: Personalised vaccine aids GBM survival at NorthWestern, Chicago

Cautious optimism over Trial results

Mr Keyoumars Ashkan, Lead for Neuro-Oncology at King’s College Hospital and European Chief Investigator for the Trial said that although it was important to wait for the full results of the trial, these interim results provided 'Cautious Optimism'.

In the USA, the lead is Linda Liau at UCLA who strongly believes this vaccine will help GBM patients live longer (4).

The trial - the largest of it's kind for a Dendritic Cell Vaccine and GBM - involved a total of 331 patients. Just over a third were 'extended survivors'  with the longest living for over 7 years and the average living 40.5 months in the interim analysis. The average for all patients was  23 months following surgery with 15-18 months being the average for GBM patients not on the trial.

The Dendritic Cell GBM Trial

In May 2013, King’s College London – part of King’s Health Partners AHSC – began recruiting patients newly diagnosed with Glioblastoma mulltiforme (GBM) - the most common and most aggressive primary malignant form of brain cancer.

Current survival time in the UK following Glioblastoma diagnosis is usually around 12 -18 months. In two initial clinical trials in America, the vaccine delayed the recurrence of the tumour for two years, and extended patients’ average survival to three years (and substantially longer in a number of patients, with two patients having reached 10 years so far) – without toxic side effects.

Patients with Glioblastoma in Europe normally undergo immediate surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, and then standard treatment involves the combined use of Temozolomide and radiotherapy. . Patients on the trial had the same surgery but the removed tumour was sent to a specialised facility in Germany.

At the same time, patients’ own blood was used to prepare their immune cells and isolate the Dendritic Cells. In Germany, experts put the two together (the patient’s immune cells and biomarkers from their particular tumour tissue) thus developing a personalised vaccine using the DCVax-®L immune therapy.

Following six weeks of standard combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the first personalised vaccine was administered as a simple injection under the skin in the arm. In all, there were up to ten injections, administered over a three year period.

Ashkan, at the time of the launch, said: “We are pleased to be leading the way in bringing these novel immune therapies to patients in the UK. Brain cancers are some of the most lethal cancers, and there is a great need for new and better treatments. The positive data from the clinical trials in the US were very encouraging in delaying disease progression and extending survival times, without significant toxic side effects. We are hopeful that similar results will be seen in the large, randomised clinical trial which we have now launched in the UK.”

DCVax®L is a personalised immune therapy developed by US company Northwest Biotherapeutics.

It should be noted that a tissue sample is essential in order to prepare this vaccine. A sample can only be obtained during an operation.

At the Launch of the Trial, CANCERactive helped recruit patients for King's College.

Go to: How Amy beat her brain tumour using Dendritic Cell Therapy and supplements



  1. First results on survival from a large Phase 3 clinical trial of an autologous dendritic cell vaccine in newly diagnosed glioblastoma; Linda Liau (UCLA), Keyoumars Ashkan (King's College London et al - 
  2. DCVax-Brain and DC vaccines in the treatment of GBM; Christopher J Wheeler; Expert Opin Investig Drugs; 2009 Apr;18(4):509-19
  3. King's College GBM VAPER Trial -
  4. Linda Liau at UCLA Interview on personalised vaccine DCVax -

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For further information at King's College please contact:

Molly Downing
Communications Officer
[email protected] 
Extension: +44 (0)20 3299 3257

2013 Research
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