A new vaccine called DCVax has been shown to more than double the five-year survival rate of people with aggressive brain tumors.

The trial of the vaccine was conducted at King's College Hospital in London over the last eight years. The study involved more than 300 patients from the UK, the US, Canada, and Germany. All these patients had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of a brain tumour in adults.

The vaccine group was given the new treatment, the standard treatment of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and the control group was just given the standard treatment.

Newly diagnosed patients who were given the vaccine survived 19.3 months on average from randomisation, compared to 16.5 months for the control group.

Meanwhile, the patients with recurrent glioblastoma survived 13.2 months on average, compared to 7.8 months for the control group. One patient from the vaccine group lived for more than eight years after receiving DCVax. A 53-year-old man from the UK is still alive seven years after taking it.

Overall, 13% of inoculated patients lived for at least five years after diagnosis, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology. The vaccine works by attacking the tumour and is a form of immunotherapy.

"The vaccine works by stimulating the patient's own immune system to fight against the patient's tumour. It provides a personalised solution, working with a patient's immune system, which is the most intelligent system known to man," said Keyoumars Ashkan, professor of neurosurgery at King's College Hospital.

It is the first time in the last 27 years that a treatment has extended survival rates in patients with recurrent glioblastoma, per a report in The Telegraph.

The researchers are now planning to conduct trial of the vaccine with other types of brain tumours and combinations of drugs. "I am optimistic we can build upon this going forward," added Professor Ashkan.

Every year, 2,500 people are diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is the most common form of brain cancer. People with glioblastoma live on average just 12–18 months after diagnosis.

human brain
Glioblastoma are very deadly brain tumours. De Agostini Picture Library /Getty Images