How a poliovirus vaccine is being used to treat brain cancer

US doctors say 21% of glioblastoma patients who received the vax were alive after three years

Around 21% of patients with advanced brain cancer treated with a modified polio vaccine were alive after three years, compared with 4% of patients with similar tumours who received standard therapies, new US research shows.

The findings, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, are the latest update on an experimental cancer vaccine developed at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina, for patients with glioblastoma.

For most patients whose glioblastoma has recurred after treatment, the average survival rate is 12 months.

Treatment typically involves a mix of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and targeted treatments.

The experimental vaccine involves a genetically modified form of polio, which is infused into the brain tumour through a surgically implanted catheter.

The vaccine works by provoking the immune system to