Trending News Today: Novel Therapeutic Vaccine Undergoes Testing to Fight Cancer

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The investigational drug brexanolone failed to perform better than placebo in patients with a severe type of epilepsy, according to STAT News. Brexanolone is designed to treat an uncontrollable form of epilepsy called super-refractory status epilepticus (SRSE). The manufacturer of the drug, Sage Therapeutics, expected brexanolone to become its first-ever drug approval; however, shares dropped 25% in pre-market trading after data from the phase 3 clinical trial were released. In the study, patients received a continuous infusion of brexanolone over 6 days. The findings showed the treatment weaned 44% of SRSE patients from medically-induced comas without seizures returning for 24 hours, reported STAT. The response rate for patients who received a placebo was comparable at 42%. According to Sage Therapeutics, the slim difference favoring brexanolone was not statistically significant, and failed the primary endpoint of the study. Brexanolone continues to be studied in other neuropsychiatric diseases, including a phase 3 clinical trial comprising women with severe postpartum depression.

Scientists are testing a new type of vaccine that stimulates immune cells to attack and eliminate existing cancers. According to The Wall Street Journal, these therapeutic vaccines have the potential to push cancers into remission without the adverse events that commonly occur with chemotherapy. The research is part of a shift in cancer drug development towards harnessing immune cells to fight the disease. Last month, Gilead Sciences agreed to pay approximately $11 billion to acquire Kite Pharma Inc, a company developing an immunotherapy that involves engineering a patient’s own immune cells to kill cancer.

New findings show that receiving hormone-replacement therapy for up to 7 years is safe for post-menopausal women. For the study, women were randomized to receive some form of hormone-replacement therapy for a median of 6 to 7 years. The findings showed that participants were no more, nor less, likely to die of any cause during the study’s duration than women who received a placebo, according to the Los Angeles Times. Additionally, participants who received synthetic estrogen and progesterone hormone-replacement therapy were no more, nor less, likely to die of stroke, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, or cancer, compared with placebo.