Penn Medicine using immunotherapy to battle glioblastoma

UNIVERSITY CITY (WPVI) -- Local researchers are turning their success with immunotherapy toward a new foe - the deadliest brain cancer, glioblastoma.

It's the cancer that took the lives of Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, and Phillies catcher Darren Daulton.

About 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with glioblastoma every year.

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Treating Glioblastoma: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on August 27, 2018.

It's very difficult to treat with conventional cancer treatments, so Penn Medicine is trying immunotherapy to kill the cancer.

Penn developed the first FDA approved cancer drug which uses the body's own immune cells. It's called CAR T Cell therapy.

Now, experts at Penn are establishing a new center for glioblastoma and they're designing new, similar therapies focusing on using the body's immune system.

"Most importantly for us is T cell therapy, which is identifying targets but engineering patient's T cells to be able to attack tumor cells," said Dr. Donald O'Rourke, Neurosurgeon at Penn Medicine.

Several medical centers around the country are researching CAR T cell treatments.

Penn is involved in a clinical trial with the University of California - San Francisco for one of them.

Right now, most patients with glioblastoma survive about 15 months after diagnosis. Senator McCain died 13 months after his diagnosis.

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