BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A first of-its kind cancer vaccine, called SurVaxM, has been proven to help safely reduce brain tumors. That’s according to results from a study conducted by Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

"We're able to see that the vaccine is effective at producing strong immune responses against proteins in the patient's tumor," said Roswell Park Cancer Institute Department of Neurosurgery Chairman Dr. Robert Fenstermaker.

Work on the drug has been ongoing for a decade. Researchers studied nine patients with brain tumors, who were only expected to live an average of seven to nine months. Five patients survived for 12 to 20 months, and the cancer did not progress for two other patients more than 30 months later.

"The fact that the vaccine was able to prolong survivial in a group of these patients as well as it did means that this potentially will be of benefit to a wider group of patients," said Fenstermaker.

Fenstermaker said the disease affects about 20,000 people in the United States each year.

Researchers say the results of this study give hope to not only those diagnosed with brain tumors, but also those with other types of cancer.

"The particular target of this vaccine is a molecule called survivin. In fact, survivin is present in a wide range of cancers, so the prospect of using this type of vaccine in other types of cancers is really very exciting to us," said Fenstermaker.

While Fenstermaker says he believes more studies need to be done on the vaccine, the institute is encouraged to expand testing to a larger group of patients.