February 14, 2023 • 2 Min

Brain Cancer Vaccine for Metastatic PNET

lab and hands in blue gloves working with a syringe.

John Keith; National Cancer Institute

Will a vaccine under study for brain cancer also work for neuroendocrine tumors including pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs)?

The treatment options for metastatic PNETs are limited after failed first-line chemotherapy with somatostatin analogues. Researchers are now exploring a different approach testing a vaccine developed to treat glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.

A New Immunotherapy Drug

Survivin is a protein that is excessively abundant in tumor cells compared to its low levels in normal cells. This feature makes survivin a good candidate for targeted therapy. The immune system identifies it as not belonging to the body and sends T cells to attack the (tumor) cells containing the protein.

Survivin is found in an estimated 95 percent of glioblastomas and, it turns out, in about 50 percent of neuroendocrine tumors, including PNETs. Researchers have developed SurVaxM, a vaccine that contains small synthetic pieces of this protein). The pieces of survivin stimulate cells from the immune system to recognize and target survivin-producing tumor cells.

How the Trial Works

The purpose of this phase I trial is to study the side effects of SurVaxM (awarded orphan drug status by the FDA in 2017) in patients with metastatic PNETs and lung NETS. The vaccine was well-tolerated in a trial for patients with recurrent gliomas.  

Patients receive an injection of SurVaxM on the first day of treatment, and then every two weeks for up to four doses, in the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Participants will also receive standard treatment for their type of NET. After completion of the study treatment, patients’ progress will be followed for three months.

We encourage you to consult your physicians for clinical trials that may be right for you. The website provides more details about this trial as well as many others. You can visit the EmergingMed Trial Finder for a list of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.

What new treatments and clinical trials are available to me?

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