New gene therapy could have potential to treat recurrent glioblastomas

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Researchers in collaboration with ZIOPHARM Oncology, a biopharmaceutical company announce positive updates on a Phase 1 clinical trials testing a new therapy

Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of brain tumour that affects approximately 74,000 individuals across the globe, annually. Despite patients undergoing rigorous treatment regimens, a high rate of recurrence remains. Patients with recurrent glioblastomas have a median overall survival of five to eight months.

In efforts to improve this dismal statistic, researchers in the US are collaborating with ZIOPHARM Oncology, a biopharmaceutical company, to conduct a Phase 1 clinical trial. The trial is going to test a new gene therapy to treat recurrent glioblastomas. Gene therapy consists of administering genes to patients to treat a disorder.

In the Phase 1 clinical trial currently underway, Ad-RTS-hIL-12, a type of gene is injected directly into the patient's tumour. Patients are also given veledimex, a drug that activates the injected gene, orally. This combination together then engages the patient's immune system to produce a targeted anti-tumour response.

Recently, the company announced positive data updates through a poster presentation at the annual meeting for the Society of Neuro-Oncology. The researchers observed an increased rate of overall survival of patients with recurrent glioblastomas who were treated with the aforementioned gene therapy. Furthermore, the researcher also observed a decrease in the size of the tumours in several patients.

“We are excited to see increasing evidence of a targeted, local immune response making brain tumours hot and illustrating how this immunotherapy contributes to patients' survival,” said Dr. Antonio Chiocca, lead author of this presentation.

In addition, the company has also initiated a trial to evaluate this gene therapy as a treatment for paediatric brain tumours. If successful in completing the clinical trials, this treatment could have significant impact on patients as it could improve survival rates and decrease the harm caused by brain tumours.