King’s College Hospital launches first brain cancer vaccine

17 May 2013 - The brain cancer trial uses the patient’s tumour to develop their own personalised vaccine.

Brain injury

King’s College Hospital has launched the first trial of the DCVax® therapy in Europe, which is already significantly extending life for patients in a US trial.

The brain cancer trial uses the patient’s tumour to develop their own personalised vaccine.

This month, King’s – part of King’s Health Partners AHSC – began recruiting patients newly diagnosed with Glioblastoma mulltiforme (GBM) - the most common and most aggressive primary malignant form of brain cancer.

Current survival time in the UK following Glioblastoma diagnosis is around 12 -18 months. However, in two initial clinical trials in the US, the vaccine delayed the recurrence of the tumour to two years, and extended patients’ average survival to three years (and substantially longer in a number of patients, with two patients having reached 10 years so far) – without toxic side effects.

Patients with suspected Glioblastoma undergo immediate surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible. Patients on the trial will have the same surgery but the removed tumour will be sent to a specialised facility in Germany. Patients also undergo a blood draw to obtain their immune cells. In Germany, experts will use each patient’s immune cells and biomarkers from their tumour tissue to develop a personalised vaccine using the DCVax® immune therapy.

Following six weeks of standard combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the first personalised vaccine will be administered as a simple injection under the skin in the arm.

There will be up to ten injections in total, administered over a three year period.

Mr Keyoumars Ashkan, Lead for Neuro-Oncology at King’s College Hospital said: “We are pleased to be leading the way in bringing these novel immune therapies to patients in the UK. Brain cancers are some of the most lethal cancers, and there is a great need for new and better treatments.

“The positive data from the clinical trials in the US were very encouraging in delaying disease progression and extending survival times, without significant toxic side effects. We are hopeful that similar results will be seen in the large, randomised clinical trial which we have now launched in the UK.”

"This is an important landmark, as we begin patient recruitment in our pioneering Phase III trial of DCVax-L for brain cancer in Europe,” commented Linda Powers, CEO of NW Bio. “This is one of the first late-stage clinical trials with active immune therapies in Europe, and is bringing patients a much needed new treatment option. We are excited to be launching this trial with Kings College Hospital, one of Europe's premier opinion-leader institutions."

King’s sees and treats hundreds of Glioblastoma patients each year, many of whom are in their 40’s and 50’s. Symptoms of Glioblastoma include severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, fits, dizziness and speech problems.
DCVax® is a personalised immune therapy developed by US company Northwest Biotherapeutics.

Important information – selection criteria for the trial at King's College Hospital

Trial recruitment is now open and Mr Ashkan, Consultant Neurosurgeon at King’s, will be specifically looking for patients who meet the following criteria:

  • Patients must be entitled to NHS treatment;
  • Aged 18 to 70 years;
  • Confirmed diagnosis of Glioblastoma mulltiforme for which surgery HASN’T already been carried out;
  • Treatment will be carried out at hospitals that are part of King’s Health Partners AHSC in London. Being part of the trial will require regular trips to the hospital for treatment.

For more detailed information about the selection criteria, please visit the clinical trials website.

Update - 2018

We are no longer recruiting new patients to this clinical trial. Early results from the DCVax trial were published in May 2018.

Notes to editors

1. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s largest and busiest teaching hospitals, with nearly 7,000 staff providing around 1,000, 000 patient contacts a year. King’s has a unique profile, with a full range of local hospital services for people in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark as well as specialist services to patients from further afield. The Trust is recognized internationally for its work in liver disease and transplantation, neurosciences, cardiac, haemato-oncology, stroke and major trauma. King’s also plays a key role in the training and education of medical, nursing and dental students with its academic partner, King’s College London. For more information, visit You can also support the work of King’s College Hospital at

2. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

We are one of only five AHSCs in the UK and bring together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our partnership brings together...

  • three of the UK’s leading NHS Foundation Trusts;
  • one of the top 30 universities in the world;
  • services provided over 225 locations, including seven hospitals and community and mental health centres;
  • 2.7 million patient contacts each year;
  • 29,000 staff;
  • 24,000 students;
  • a combined annual turnover of £2.6bn.

... to advance health and wellbeing by integrating world-class research, care and teaching.

3. Together we can... supports King’s College Hospital. We fundraise for the best in treatment, research and health education, leading-edge equipment and improving well-being in our communities. By uniting doctors, nurses, researchers and academics with our supporters and volunteers we can provide the best patient care that goes above and beyond. Find out more and support us at