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For the new study, the researchers genetically modified the poliovirus so that it can't cause the polio disease or reproduce in brain cells. But the modified virus seeks out cancer cells, and
once it infects these cells, it triggers the body's immune system to attack the cancer cells. The study involved 61 patients who had a recurrence of glioblastoma and were treated with
the modified poliovirus (which is infused directly into the brain) between 2012 and 2017. These patients were compared with a group of 104 glioblastoma patients with a cancer recurrence who were
treated at Duke with standard therapies, before the poliovirus therapy was available. This latter group was called "historical controls." Overall, the median survival for patients who received the poliovirus therapy was
12.5 months, compared with 11.3 months for historical controls. ("Median survival" is the number that's in the middle for survival; that is, an equal number of people survived for a longer
amount of time and an equal number of people survived for a shorter amount of time than the median.) While the median survival time for both groups was similar, the researchers
saw bigger differences in survival over the long term. After two years, the survival rate among those who received the poliovirus therapy was 21 percent, compared with 14 percent for historical
controls, and after three years, the survival rate among the poliovirus treatment group remained 21 percent, while it dropped to 4 percent among historical controls. "It appears that some patients don't
respond (to the poliovirus therapy) for one reason or another, but if they respond, they often become long-term survivors," said Dr. Annick Desjardins, an associate professor of neurosurgery at Duke, and
co-lead author of the study. The first patient to receive the therapy was Stephanie Hopper, who was diagnosed with glioblastoma when she was just 20 years old and received the poliovirus
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