"For two thirds of her life, 12-year-old Leah Koller has battled glioma, an invasive brain tumor. Fortunately, Regina Jakacki, M.D., the hospital's director of pediatric neuro-oncology, has been working on a vaccine to stimulate a child's immune system to target proteins unique to tumor cells. Just as Leah's glioma had gotten out of control two years ago -- and her sixth round of chemo at the hospital failed -- the vaccine was open for testing in children. "After nine weeks, the tumor actually seemed worse, and we wondered if we did the right thing," says her mom, Raelene. "But then it started to shrink -- and now 80 percent of it is gone." In the last two years, about three dozen cancer patients have received the vaccine and it's helped more than half of them. Says Dr. Jakacki: "My team and I were hoping to prolong the lives of these kids, but now we're thinking we're onto a cure in some cases."
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