Brain Cancer Immunotherapy Boosted by Tetanus Vaccine

Brain Cancer Discoveries

Cancer vaccines train the body’s immune system to target and kill cancer cells, often requiring a boost to the patient’s immune power. A recent study has found a surprising teammate for brain cancer vaccines: the tetanus shot.

The same tetanus vaccine used to prevent bacterial infections associated with rusted metal has a powerful effect of activating and alerting the body’s immune system overall. Because of this, the boost from a tetanus shot may be an extremely effective tool in increasing the success of immunotherapy treatments.

Doctors at Duke University Medical Center recently administered a cancer vaccine trial to patients with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain tumor. In patients who first received the tetanus shot to awaken their immune response, survival rates increased significantly.

Here’s what the 12-patient trial study found:

  • Patients given tetanus and cancer vaccines survived 4 to 8 more years, with one patient still surviving. Patients without the tetanus vaccine survived up to 11 months.
  • The tetanus vaccine sounds a warning call to the body’s immune system. This increases the chances that the cancer vaccine will be successfully received by the lymph nodes — where the cancer vaccine must go to train the immune system.
  • The cytomegalovirus — present in most people but inactive — becomes reactivated in brain cancer cells. The dendritic cells cancer vaccine can identify brain cancer cells by looking for active cytomegalovirus.

Researchers hope that the tetanus vaccine can not only be a successful tool to fight glioblastoma brain cancer, but also teach us how to boost other kinds of cancer immunotherapy.

Contact us at Issels® Integrative Immuno-Oncology to find out about cancer vaccines and other innovative forms of immunotherapy.