Investigational Brain Cancer Vaccine Produces Strong Immunological Response

Phase I clinical trial results of SurVaxM presented at AACR Annual Meeting 2015 in Philadelphia

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A first-of-its kind cancer vaccine, SurVaxM, has demonstrated safety and tolerability in patients with recurrent or progressive malignant brain tumors, according to results of a phase I study conducted by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers. The findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2015, being held April 18-22 in Philadelphia.

The study title is “Phase I study of SurVaxM in patients with survivin-expressing recurrent malignant gliomas” (CT301; section 24, poster board 1). This immunotherapeutic vaccine will now be evaluated in a larger phase II clinical trial to assess its effectiveness for patients with advanced brain tumors and a new phase I clinical trial for multiple myeloma patients.

“This recently completed clinical trial was the critical first step for the survivin vaccine, to show its safety for use in humans,” says the study’s senior author, Robert Fenstermaker, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Neuro-Oncology Program. “Through this process we also confirmed that the vaccine produces a strong immune response and gave us a signal of potential clinical responses.”

Fenstermaker and colleagues entered nine patients with survivin-positive recurrent glioblastoma (brain tumors) who received a series of up to four injections of SurVaxM at two-week intervals. Most patients developed T cell and antibody responses to survivin, the vaccine target. The average expected survival time for recurrent glioblastoma patients is approximately only seven months when receiving standard therapy. In this trial of SurVaxM, six of the eight patients with recurrent glioblastoma have had progressive disease, although five of these survived from 12 to 20-plus months. Two of the eight patients were still progression-free at 20 and 31-plus months.

Survivin is associated with aggressive cancers and an indicator of poor prognosis and response to conventional therapy. The SurVaxM vaccine is designed to target cancer cells that use this protein.

“SurVaxM is on the forefront of the next generation of cancer therapy. By harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer using immunotherapy, we believe we can give hope to patients diagnosed with malignant gliomas and other cancers,” adds the study’s first author, Michael Ciesielski, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Neurosurgery at Roswell Park.

Funds raised through the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and The Ride For Roswell have supported this research beginning with its earliest stages, allowing it to advance through the phase I clinical trial and now, the phase II clinical trial. 


The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact

Deborah Pettibone, Public Information Specialist
AACR Onsite Contact: Tara Yates, Public Affairs Director