Cancer is one of the biggest burdens on society and a global health issue. A great deal of sustained effort is being poured into research and clinical trials, and even though progress is steady, current treatment options are still limited and not as effective for all cases.
The term cancer describes a series of diseases that cause unregulated cell growth, and in the case of glioblastoma, it is glial cells. They have a role in modulating nerve signal propagation, controlling the uptake of neurotransmitters, but also neural recovery and local immunity, some of the most important tasks required for good brain functioning.
A glioblastoma is an aggressive form of brain malignancy, accounting for about 17% of all brain tumors and with a mortality rate of more than 15.000 cases each year. For some decades now, the standard treatment consisted of surgery and heavy chemotherapy, with limited success. New targeted approaches are being developed, safer and promising better results.
Genetic research is being used to try and suppress the MDA-9/Syntenin gene causing widespread death among tumor cells. By altering autophagy, the process through which the brain clears debris and performs maintenance, this method would essentially allow the destruction of affected cells from within.
Another treatment option that is currently being tested involves the DCVax-L vaccine. This is a procedure where cancer cells are harvested from patients, the dendritic cells reprogrammed to target those specific mutations, and then injected back. Trials are still going, but results so far are promising. There are significant improvements in survival rates, around 30% for the initial 30 months and more than 25% at the three-year mark.
These innovative new therapies have shown their effectiveness and will help improve the lives of millions of people struggling with the terrible diagnosis of glioblastoma.